Wednesday, February 05, 2014
Three fizzy drinks per day could triple chance of heart disease
The usual correlational crap. Poor people probably drink more fizzy drinks and are unhealthier anyway
Drinking just three cans of fizzy pop each day could triple your chance of developing heart disease, a study has suggested.
Scientists in America found a strong association between the proportion of daily calories from foods laden with added sugars - rather than those that occur naturally - and death rates from cardiovascular disease.
For people who take on a quarter of their calories each day from the sugars common in sticky drinks, sweets and desserts, the researchers found the risk tripled compared to those whose sugar contribution was less than 10 per cent.
Dietary guidelines from the World Health Organisation recommend added sugar should make up less than a tenth of total calorie intake, yet many processed foods and beverages are packed with sugar.
In Britain the average adult between 19 and 65 takes on 1,882 calories per day, according to the The Health and Social Care Information Centre, so three cans of fizzy drinks each containing 140 of added sugar would amount to around a quarter.
The new study, published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, used American national health survey data to determine how much added sugar people were consuming. Between 2005 and 2010 it accounted for at least 10 per cent of the calories consumed by more than 70 per cent of the US population, the research showed.
Around a tenth of adults obtained a quarter or more of their calories from added sugar.
The information was matched against heart disease mortality over a typical period of 14.6 years, during which a total of 831 cardiovascular deaths were recorded.
Professor Naveed Satta from the British Heart Foundation Glasgow Cardiovascular Research Centre at the University of Glasgow said: "We have known for years about the dangers of excess saturated fat intake, an observation which led the food industry to replace unhealthy fats with presumed 'healthier' sugars in many food products.
"However, the present study, perhaps more strongly than previous ones, suggests that those whose diet is high in added sugars may also have an increased risk of heart attack. Of course, sugar per se is not harmful - we need it for the body's energy needs - but when consumed in excess it will contribute to weight gain and, in turn, may accelerate heart disease."
Dr Nita Forouhi from the Medical Research Council Epidemiology Unit at Cambridge University, called for "clear front of pack labelling of sugar content" to help consumers buying food products.
"While policy makers deliberate on the pros and cons of a sugary drinks tax, there is a public health action less talked about: a health warning on soft drinks with high sugar content, recommending to limit consumption as part of a healthy diet," she said.
The study showed that the average proportion of daily calories obtained from added sugar rose from 15.7 per cent in 1988-1994 to 16.8 per cent in 1999-2004. It decreased to 14.9 per cent in 2005-2010.
ABC’s Slime-Time News
Did flashy reporting go too far when it stirred up hysteria over a common beef product?
On March 21, 2012, NBC led the nightly news with reporting about the Trayvon Martin case. CBS led with a report that the NFL was imposing unprecedented sanctions on a team for a scheme that involved paying athletes to injure opponents.
It was a slow news day, and the Big Three newscasts had to choose unconventional leads. But ABC’s lead on World News was, even in that context, unlikely. It was news the network had played an integral role in creating: The program’s aggressive coverage of an obscure food product was yielding results, and Diane Sawyer announced that some of America’s largest supermarket chains were “taking action,” discontinuing the sale of ground beef that contained a product known as lean finely textured beef or, as ABC repeatedly referred to it on air, “pink slime.”
Though the term had been used before, both within the U.S. Department of Agriculture and in a 2009 New York Times report, the twelve reports on “pink slime” that aired on World News in the month between March 7 and April 3, 2012, broadcast the term to millions of viewers in an alarming fashion. The initial March 7 report alone included, in ABC’s words, “stunning” and “startling” revelations that beef trimmings “once used only in dog food and cooking oil” might be be hiding in your dinner.
In the wake of the broadcasts, Beef Products, Inc. (BPI), the country’s main producer of lean finely textured beef, was forced to shutter three of its four factories and to lay off over 650 employees. It has now filed suit against ABC, alleging that the network libeled and defamed the product.
ABC’s reporting on “pink slime” is the latest dustup in a long line of crusading, consumer-oriented journalism, aimed primarily at women, that has prompted legal backlash. There was the 1989 60 Minutes broadcast that sent apple prices plummeting after it warned that a chemical called alar, which was sprayed on apples to prevent their falling off trees prematurely, caused cancer. Alar was voluntarily withdrawn from the market after the Environmental Protection Agency considered banning it, but not before apple growers had filed an unsuccessful libel lawsuit against CBS News.
Then came ABC’s 1992 report that revealed unsanitary practices in back rooms of the grocery-store chain Food Lion. Two ABC producers lied on employment applications in order to obtain jobs with the grocery chain and get access to those back rooms. The company subsequently sued ABC, claiming that the broadcast cost it $1.5 billion in stock value and $233 million in profits. A $5.5 million verdict in Food Lion’s favor was ultimately overturned, and ABC was ordered to pay the chain just $2 in damages.
The following year, Dateline NBC rigged crash tests of a GM pickup truck by using explosives to ensure that a fire would erupt if the truck crashed when gas was leaking from it. NBC settled a defamation suit filed by GM.
In cases like “pink slime,” veteran TV news producer Rick Kaplan says litigation is not unexpected. “They knew when they did this they were going to get sued, so I’m sure they did it with the lawyers hand in hand,” says Kaplan, who produced the Food Lion report and spent nearly two decades at ABC before going on to serve as the president first of CNN and then of MSNBC. ABC was holding BPI’s feet to the fire, he says, and “ought to be lauded for that.”
BPI has insisted all along that its meat was not “pink slime” but a product with a proud history. One of the company’s founders, Eldon Roth (the other is his wife, Regina), invented a process that salvaged lean beef from the fatty meat trimmings that remain after steaks are carved out of a carcass; those trimmings had previously been discarded or used only in high-fat ground beef. Roth’s invention lowered the cost of the ground beef sold to school cafeterias, fast-food restaurants, and supermarkets across the country.
It also made that beef safer to eat. The Washington Post once described a BPI factory as a “fortress against potentially lethal bacteria.” BPI’s production process, which involves spraying beef with ammonia, was designed to prevent the sort of contamination that in 1993 claimed the lives of three children who had consumed undercooked burgers at Jack in the Box.
Roth’s innovation made him, and the company, prosperous. Prior to ABC’s reporting onslaught, BPI was operating four processing plants, employing over 1,300 people in the United States, and raking in over $115 million in profits annually. Mitt Romney heralded Roth’s innovation in his 2010 book No Apology and cited him as an archetypical American success story, writing that while “a young Eldon Roth held a blue-collar job in a cold-storage plant . . . Eldon now owns a very large jet.” Roth and his wife together donated $190,000 to super PACs supporting Romney and have generously supported other Republican political candidates over the years.
ABC’s broadcasts have dramatically changed BPI’s fortunes: Grocery chains stopped carrying ground beef that contained “pink slime,” and some fast-food chains swore it off. The company’s legal complaint alleges that ABC’s stories are costing it more than $20 million in revenue every month.
Whether the network libeled and defamed BPI and its product is now the subject of a $1.2 billion lawsuit. The standards for proving libel and defamation are high, but Beef Products, Inc., v. American Broadcasting Company, Inc., et al. — anchor Diane Sawyer and correspondents Jim Avila and David Kerley are also named in the suit — is shaping up to be one of the highest-stakes defamation battles in many years. (National Review has an important case of its own in the courts.)
The case is chugging along, and not necessarily in ABC’s direction. The network’s attempt to remove the case from South Dakota state court into federal court was denied in June. If the case goes before a jury, South Dakota-based BPI will have home-court advantage.
USDA regulations do not require that products containing lean finely textured beef be specially labeled, and Avila broadcast an initial report featuring a “whistleblower” who alleged that “USDA officials with links to the beef industry” were improperly labeling “pink slime” as meat. It had the look and feel of the opening salvo in a campaign against the product.
The New York Times had reported in 2009 on a debate within the USDA and the beef industry itself over lean finely textured beef and its main producer, BPI — in particular, over the effectiveness of the ammonia-treatment process the company employs to kill E. coli and salmonella; the use of the product in school lunches; and the tradeoff between the cost savings and reduction in quality. From ABC’s initial coverage, it would have been difficult to determine that there had ever been a debate.
Having raised the alarm, the network did its best to keep it blaring: It sent producers into grocery-store meat sections on March 8 to see if there was pink slime in the ground beef and asked the country’s top ten grocery chains if they sold it. “Our viewers want to know if pink slime lurks in the beef sold here,” Avila said on March 9. “Most couldn’t tell us for sure.” When the USDA declined ABC’s requests to respond to its queries on the record, Sawyer told Avila on the 9th, “Keep calling all next week. I’m going to be asking every day.” In subsequent broadcasts, the network named and shamed grocery chains that carried the product.
As stores reacted, Sawyer used her broadcasts to showcase her success. “We are getting action tonight,” she told viewers on March 14. The USDA, which purchases food for the National School Lunch Program, was set to announce that it would allow schools to purchase either less-expensive hamburgers containing pink slime or costlier burgers free of the product.
“Tonight, taking action,” she said a week later, on March 21, as some of the country’s largest grocery chains discontinued beef containing “pink slime.” On April 3 came the report that the government had taken “big action.” The USDA was amending its labeling rules to allow producers voluntarily to label meat that contained lean finely textured beef.
The court battle over ABC’s work is being waged, on both sides, by titans of the legal industry. ABC retained the ultimate Washington law firm, Williams & Connolly; the team of lawyers representing the network is headed by Kevin Baine. In the late 1990s, Baine successfully handled CNN’s libel lawsuits stemming from the network’s botched 1998 Operation Tailwind report alleging that the United States used nerve gas in the Vietnam War.
Posted by jonjayray at 12:07 AM