Wednesday, November 18, 2009

HEALTH NEWS: Sodas, Obesity & HFCS

Bubbling Over: New Research Shows
Direct Link Between Soda and Obesity
September 17th, 2009

While health officials have long suspected the link between obesity and soda consumption, research released today provides the first scientific evidence of the potent role soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages play in fueling California’s expanding girth. In their landmark study: Bubbling Over: Soda Consumption and Its Link to Obesity in California, researchers from the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research (CHPR) and the California Center for Public Health Advocacy (CCPHA) discovered a strong correlation between soda consumption and weight. Based upon data from more than 40,000 interviews conducted by the California Health Interview Surveys (CHIS), researchers found that adults who drink a soda or more per day are 27 percent more likely to be overweight than those who do not drink sodas, regardless of income or ethnicity. "The science is clear and conclusive: soda is fueling California’s $41 billion a year obesity epidemic," says CCPHA Executive Director Dr. Harold Goldstein, an author of the research brief. "We drink soda like water. But unlike water, soda serves up a whopping 17 teaspoons of sugar in every 20-ounce serving."

Research shows that over the last 30 years Americans consumed 278 more calories per day even as physical activity levels remained relatively unchanged. One of the biggest changes in diet during that period was the enormous increase in soda consumption, accounting for as much as 43 percent of all new calories. According to Goldstein, that research, combined with this new data on soda consumption, offers conclusive proof of the link between soda and obesity. And while adult soda consumption is troubling, consumption trends among children paint an even more alarming picture for the future health of California.

The study found that 41 percent of young children (2-11 years of age) are drinking at least one soda or sugar-sweetened beverage every day. Adolescents (12-17) represent the biggest consumers, with 62 percent (over 2 million youths) drinking one or more sodas every day – the equivalent of consuming 39 pounds of sugar each year in soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages. "Soda is cheap, sweet and irresistibly marketed to teens," says the study’s lead author, Dr. Susan H. Babey, a research scientist with the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. "Not enough teens know about the health and dietary risks of drinking huge quantities of what is essentially liquid sugar while television and advertising tell them it is ‘cool’ to do so."

There were major differences in adult consumption rates by county, the study discovered. Residents of the lowest soda consuming counties of Marin, San Francisco, Yolo and San Mateo drink far less soda than their counterparts in the heaviest drinking counties of Kings, Madera, Kern and Imperial. Nevertheless, the soda/obesity linkage still holds true - those who consume large amounts of soda, regardless of where they live, suffer disproportionally from obesity and overweight. "If we are serious about tackling the obesity crisis, cutting back soda consumption has to be the top priority," Goldstein asserts. "Parents, communities, businesses and government all have a role to play in helping to reduce consumption. We cannot afford to raise another ‘Pepsi Generation.’"

Funding for the study was provided by The California Endowment, a private statewide health foundation that is a national leader in the childhood obesity prevention movement. "This research clearly shows the very serious health risks of drinking soda and other sweetened beverages. I hope policymakers will read this report closely and think about what they can do to combat the obesity epidemic that is clearly tied to consuming too many sodas," says Dr. Robert K. Ross, president and CEO of The California Endowment. Click Here for Info on the full study

The dangers of high fructose corn syrup
Ly Hua

If you thought high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) was bad, start paying attention to what's being added now to very new and popular drinks like Vitamin water. It's called crystalline fructose. For some reason it kinda sounds better, but it's HFCS on steroids (figuratively, of course). Most drinks that contain this technically have less sugar (because it's sweeter, so they don't use as much). That's one of the selling points these beverage companies try to highlight about their drinks. Products like vitamin water would be a healthy alternative to soda and other beverages sweetened with high fructose corn syrup. However, they use crystalline fructose.

At first I loved vitamin water. Then I did my research. High fructose corn syrup is bad because it contains either a 50/50 or 80/20 mixture of fructose to glucose. Both are 5-carbon sugars, but glucose is broken down by all the cells in the body for energy. Fructose however can only be broken down by the liver. Studies have also shown that the, since the molecular structures are similiar, the cells in the body will metabolize fructose, but at a rate about 1/3 slower. That means the sugar remains in your blood for a longer period of time, increasing the risk of diabetes.

Crystalline fructose contains close to 99% fructose. Which means drinking vitamin water (and all the other new products out there sporting crystalline fructose) means you're making your liver work extra hard. Liver's aren't suppose to be working that hard every day, so you'll end up causing a fatty liver or getting cirrhosis of the liver. Here's yet another marketing ploy to try to take advantage of the ignorance of the consumer. (BTW, Gatorade now uses high fructose corn syrup, which defeats the whole concept of its usefulness during athletic events and training).

Other alternatives being explored by the beverage and food industries include sugar alchohols, such as sorbitol and malitol. I've seen these sugar alchohols in chocolate bars, diet and sports drinks, as well as chewing gum. The body doesn't metabolize these chemicals, so they contribute zero calories (or close to it) of energy. However, because the body doesn't metabolize them, you get a very similiar result to eating fat free potato chips fried in Olestra (if you recall, that oil didn't metabolize in the body, so it too contributed zero calories of energy). The end result was, eating too many products containing these
sugar substitutes caused bloating and diarrhea.
Learn more about this author,
Ly Hua.

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