Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Sugary soft drinks lead to diabetes (?)

This is just the usual correlational nonsense. The poor are less healthy and also drink more sugary drinks. Correlation does not prove causation. The poor would be less healthy anyway

More people now drink soft, sport and fruit drinks daily, and the increase has led to thousands more diabetes and heart disease cases over the past decade, according to research presented to the American Heart Association's annual conference. The study estimates the increased consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks between 1990 and 2000 contributed to 130,000 new cases of diabetes, 14,000 new cases of coronary heart disease (CHD), and 50,000 additional life-years burdened by coronary heart disease in the US over the past decade. The drinks – excluding 100 per cent fruit juice – contain between 120 to 200 calories per drink and play a major role in the rising tide of obesity.

Now researchers are calling for a health tax on soft drinks to pay for the increase costs of treating victims of coronary disease and diabetes.

Dr Litsa Lambrakos, of the University of California, said: "We can demonstrate an association between daily consumption of sugared beverages and diabetes risk. We can then translate this information into estimates of the current diabetes and cardiovascular disease that can be attributed to the rise in consumption of these drinks."

Over the last decade, at least 6,000 excess deaths from any cause and 21,000 life-years lost can be attributed in the United States to the increase in sugar-sweetened drinks.

Health policy experts suggest curbing the consumption of sugared drinks through an excise tax of one cent per ounce of beverage, which would be expected to decrease consumption by 10 per cent. Professor Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, senior author of the study at the University of California, said: "If such a tax could curb the consumption of these drinks, the health benefits could be dramatic."

Dr Lambrakos said: "We want to make the general public more aware of the adverse health outcomes of consuming these drinks over time. "We want to help support disease prevention and curb consumption of these drinks that lead to poor health outcomes and increased health care costs for the average American."


Humans found to have sixth taste: fat

AUSTRALIAN scientists have shown that humans can detect a sixth taste: fat. And it appears that those people who are highly sensitive to the taste of fat tend to eat less of it, and have significantly lower body mass indexes.

Using a series of taste-testing experiments, researchers from Deakin University have found that humans can identify the taste of fat by its chemical composition, rather than by its texture.

The findings could lead to new ways of treating obesity. The lead researcher, Russell Keast, said: "Fat has a very nice mouth feel to it [but it] appears that fat is activating something in the oral cavity independent of texture."

Dr Keast and his team had a group of people sample various types of fatty acids found in common foods, mixed in with non-fat milk to disguise the texture. Of the 33 people tested, all could detect the taste of fat to a varying degree, he said. Fat flavour can now be added to the other known tastes: sweet, salt, sour, bitter, and umami - a taste for protein-rich foods.

Just like the other tastes, Dr Keast said, the degree of sensitivity to fat differed between individuals. "I may be very sensitive to sweet tastes, while somebody else may be insensitive, this is common throughout the tastes, and it's exactly what we're finding with fat."

After the research group had established that humans could taste fat, they wanted to know if the ability to taste fat had any influence on what people ate. Study participants were divided into two groups, those who were hyper or very sensitive to the fat taste, and those who were not. "People who are very sensitive to fat can taste very low concentrations of it."

Dr Keast then compared the daily diets of both groups and found those people who were hypersensitive to fat ate less of it in their daily diet. They also had lower body mass indexes. "It appears [hypersensitive] people have a mechanism that is telling them to stop eating it, he said. The reverse was happening in people who were not sensitive to the taste, said Dr Keast. "They are over-consuming and this is creating an energy imbalance, which is leading to higher BMI or development of overweight or obesity."

Dr Keast is now looking into why some people are sensitive and others are not.


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