If you haven’t already, now may be a good time to decrease your consumption of processed sugar. New research published in the journal Nature Medicine shows a link between processed sugar and cancer cells. Though it is not the first study to find a correlation between the two, this particular study is the first to suggest sugar as a way to detect cancer in the body.
The detection method, called glucose chemical exchange saturation transfer (glucoCEST), was discovered when scientists from University College London were experimenting with a new cancer detection method involving a unique form of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The scientists programmed an MRI scanner to look specifically for glucose, and found that cancer tumors lit up brightly when scanned in this way due to their high sugar content. “The method uses an injection of normal sugar and could offer a cheap, safe alternative to existing methods for detecting tumors, which require the injection of radioactive material,” said Dr. Simon Walker-Samuel, the lead researcher of the study in a release.
Think about it: Your choice of beverages 100 years ago was pretty much limited to milk, water, coffee and tea. The same goes for the span of human history prior to that. Sugary drinks are a 20th-century phenomenon, and the very modern toll they take on our bodies encompasses more than just obesity.
Here are a few facts to help keep the sugar you drink in check.
Sugar’s effects are multifaceted. Diabetes, high blood pressure, and disorders that affect our metabolism can all be attributed to over-consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB).
Health experts are giving sugar a reprieve in the case against obesity. While sugar and its many processed variations are running amok in the food we eat at home or away, fats, oils, flour and cereal are more to blame for America’s continuous bloat.
According to the CDC, 25.6% of Americans have a BMI greater than thirty, firmly planting them into the obese category. Since we tend to lie about how tall we are and how much we weigh, the figure is probably a bit generous, but it’s a 10.3% increase since 20 years ago, and that’s alarming.
A New York Times article reports that Americans are consuming 448 more daily calories— or 20% more—than they were in 1970. The Department of Agriculture says 242 of those calories are from fats and oils, 167 are from flour and cereal, and only 35 are from sugars. (more…)
If you or your kids are regular consumers of Dannon’s Danimals Smoothies, you’ve been taking in about 25 percent less sugar with each serving. Since February they’ve cut back the sugar in their kid-focused yogurt. They purposefully didn’t make a big deal about it as to avoid scaring off consumers.
It’s not the first time a brand has made a change to its formula only to reap the repercussions of consumers who prefer the status quo. McDonald’s faced backlash when switching from an animal fat frying oil to canola over concerns those world-famous fries would taste different. (Today their website boasts the use of a canola oil blend and that all fried foods on its menu are free of trans fats.)
And of course everyone knows the tale of New Coke, when the soft drink company reformulated its soda and became one of the most infamous marketing flops around. So changing something that wasn’t necessarily broken had to be done so in an exacting way by Dannon. It’s no surprise that the brand treaded these sugary waters carefully.
“One thing I have learned is that the main driver of yogurt sales above all is taste,” said Sergio Fuster, senior vice president for marketing at Dannon, to NYTimes.com. “You do not want to send any signal to the consumer that might lead her to believe the taste has changed because she will simply pick up another yogurt — and it may not be ours.” (more…)
A recent study found a correlation between how high a nation’s sugar consumption is and its type 2 diabetes rate. Now researchers are taking it a grim step further by estimating how many deaths can be directly attributed to sugary drinks.
Researchers at Harvard have linked sugary drinks to the deaths of 25,000 Americans every year and 180,000 deaths worldwide.
“We know that sugar-sweetened beverages are linked to obesity, and that a large number of deaths are caused by obesity-related diseases. But until now, nobody had really put these pieces together,” said Gitanjali Singh, the lead author of the five-year study and a postdoctoral research fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health.
In a not-so-shocking development, The American Beverage Association issued a critical response to the study’s findings.
“It does not show that consuming sugar-sweetened beverages causes chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease or cancer – the real causes of death among the studied subjects,” the industry group said in a written statement. “The researchers make a huge leap when they take beverage intake calculations from around the globe and allege that those beverages are the cause of deaths which the authors themselves acknowledge are due to chronic disease.” (more…)
The war on junk food is in full throttle. It began its slow escalation from proposals to improve school lunches and banning soda machines in schools, then maybe took a left turn into a little absurdity with the Mayor Bloomberg-led moratorium on giant-sized sodas in New York City (which takes effect tomorrow).
Junk food has been front and center in recent weeks as a high profileNew York Times report outright accused food makers of a concerted effort to hook the public on cheap unhealthy snacks. Now, sugar is back in the crosshairs, and candy makers are beginning to sweat.
It’s nothing short of surreal: the candy industry wants to offer solutions to the obesity crisis.
“If we don’t [act], I worry that someone else will do it for us.” said Debra Sandler, president of Mars Chocolate in North America at the National Confectioners Association meeting in Miami. “We need the whole industry to step up… We are not judged by the leaders of the category but by those who do not take responsibility for change.”
One place Mars and its competitors are starting – their youngest consumers. “They have adopted a policy to voluntarily stop direct marketing of candy to children under 12 years old. That’s a start,” noted Mary Hartley, RD, our resident nutrition expert. (more…)
There’s a new cola war going on, but it’s a little more serious than the old Pepsi vs. Coke feud of decades past. Obesity is out of control, stretching our already stretched-thin health care system, and sugar consumption is center stage.
So, what do you do when you are the purveyor of some of the biggest selling, empty-calorie, sugar-laden drinks in our country’s history? Well, you play damage control, of course.
“We have not done a good enough job in telling our story and being consistent in telling our story,” said Coca-Cola spokeswoman Diana Garza Ciarlante.
Right, the problem is that people don’t know what Coca-Cola is really all about. In reality, we’re talking about a propaganda war. Try to soften the blow of bad publicity, then draw more attention to your diet soda by signing a major celebrity spokeswoman — Taylor Swift announced her partnership pitching Diet Coke last Sunday:
But back to damage control. Coke decided to take on obesity directly, with their “Coming Together” campaign, pointing out that of their 650 beverages, they offer 180 low- or no-calorie drinks. (more…)
A study from the American Academy of Neurology has found a link between sweetened drinks and a higher risk of depression, with diet soda being the highest risk. Conversely, unsweetened coffee got kudos for appearing to decrease the depression risk.
“Sweetened beverages, coffee and tea are commonly consumed worldwide and have important physical — and may have important mental — health consequences,” said study researcher Honglei Chen, M.D., Ph.D., an investigator in the Epidemiology Branch at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.
Researchers studied the drinking habits of 263,925 people between 50 and 71 years old for a year. After a decade they checked back in with them and found 11,311 participants were diagnosed with depression. Frequently consuming sweetened drinks was linked to a modestly higher risk of depression. (more…)
Remember a time when you were eating, but never felt full and ended up eating more food? This could be caused by the consumption of fructose. As reported by Medical News Study, researchers found glucose and fructose have an influence on parts of the brain that control appetite.
The study, which was published in the Journal of the American Medical Assocation (JAMA), found that fructose produces hormones in the brain that will leave you feeling hungry. However, the study did find that glucose will leave you filling fuller and satisfied. Glucose is a type of sugar you get from food, which your body takes and turns into energy.
Since fructose makes your brain think you are still hungry and causes you to eat more, could there be a link between fructose and obesity?
Our resident dietitian, Mary Hartley RD, comments on the study’s new findings, saying, “Excessive fructose intake may have a link to obesity, but it is too early to tell. It is very difficult to single out a particular nutrient to blame. In addition, obesity is a multifactorial problem and contributing factors are not the same for all people.” (more…)
There’s a new Diet Pepsi in several cities around the U.S., which now lists a new ingredient on the cans and bottles. It’s called acesulfame potassium, also known as Acesulfame K or Ace K.
This quiet change is apparently not going to change the taste of the soda, but is meant to add shelf life by allowing the “fresh” taste and flavor to last longer. The project’s goal is to give the old/current base sweetener (aspartame) a jump kick because of its sensitivity to heat and susceptibility to breaking down. Ace K has proven to be less sensitive to heat.
So what exactly is Ace K? Acesulfame potassium is another form of an artificial sweetener that is calorie free and about 200 times as sweet as everyday table sugar. Due to its slightly bitter aftertaste, it is often mixed with other artificial sweeteners (in this case it was mixed with Diet Pepsi’s aspartame). It’s often found in many baked goods, processed foods and other soft drinks similar to Diet Pepsi.
“Aspartame breaks down during storage especially when the temperature is high (that’s why you can’t bake with it) and so this is a good move on Pepsi’s part,” said our resident dietitian, Mary Hartley, RD. “The move has nothing to do with the safety of aspartame, which has been found to be safe in scientific studies time and again.”
That might be one positive factor, but is it enough to make it OK to be consuming the other harmful ingredients listed on the back? (more…)
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