Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The sugar war descends to "ad hominem" abuse

Robert Lustig must be feeling on top of the world these days.  Long dismissed as a crank for his war on sugar he is now seeing his crusade become the fad of the day. 

Now that fat has been exonerated as the main cause of obesity, the do-gooders have had to find a new  villain -- and sugar has been elected to that role.

 Your total calorie intake undoubtedly influences your weight but where is the evidence that sugar is more fattening than other calories?  There is none.  So all we see below is abuse and appeals to authority -- plus false claims that obesity is increasing

A radical UN recommendation to halve sugar intake will not be implemented in Britain says a Whitehall adviser on nutrition who has worked for Mars and Coca-Cola.

Professor Ian MacDonald, head of a panel of health experts in charge of drawing up guidelines on sugar, said it will ‘not act’ on the World Health Organisation’s proposal.

The move led to fury yesterday as senior doctors and MPs accused officials of ‘immense arrogance’ for ignoring the suggested limit of six teaspoons a day, in the face of an obesity crisis that threatens to overwhelm the NHS.

And campaigners last night accused Professor MacDonald – who only recently left the pay of the two fast food giants – of being ‘in the pocket’ of the sugar industry.

He is one of six scientists on the panel of eight who have links to manufacturers of sugary foods, including the world’s largest chocolate maker and fizzy drinks producers.

The row comes amid growing concern over the high levels of sugar in everyday foods, which experts believe is a major contributor to obesity, heart disease and diabetes.

Around a quarter of adults in Britain are obese but this is predicted to soar to more than half the population by 2050 and cost the economy £50billion a year.

An average adult eats between 11 and 12  teaspoons of sugar a day – double the new recommendation – while children consume as many as 15.

But referring to the WHO guidelines, Professor MacDonald said: ‘The position, I’ve been informed by the officials, is that actually we would take note of it but we would not act on it.’

He added that the Government would take the recommendations of his own panel, the Carbohydrate Working Group of the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition, rather than those of the WHO.

Graham MacGregor, of the group Action on Sugar and professor of cardiology at the Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine, accused Professor MacDonald of ‘arrogance’ about the extent of the health crisis posed by sugar.

He said: ‘To say that he is going to ignore the WHO has an immense amount of arrogance about it.  'Given the fact we are facing an obesity crisis, what is his plan? … it’s a real timebomb. 'Obesity and diabetes are going to overwhelm the health service in terms of cost. We have to do something.’

Tam Fry, of the National Obesity Forum, said: ‘Ian MacDonald is a leading figure in his discipline.

'The problem is his research money is so dependent on these firms that you have to ask the question, is he in their pocket?’

Luciana Berger MP, Labour’s shadow public health minister, accused the Government of being ‘too close to big businesses to do what’s best for our nation’s health’.

The SACN is expected to produce its own sugar guidelines in June.


Energy drinks 'increase the risk of mental health problems and drug and alcohol abuse'

Rubbish!  This is correlational data only so allows no causal influences.  At most the data suggests the existence of an addictive personality

Energy drinks can lead to mental health problems and drug and alcohol abuse in teenagers, researchers have warned.  Their findings have been published just a day after it emerged a teenager's heart stopped three times after downing 10 Jagerbombs mixed with Red Bull.

The new research, published in the journal Preventive Medicine, found that students prone to depression - and those who smoke marijuana or drink alcohol - are more likely to consume energy drinks.

Among the 8,210 high school students surveyed, nearly two thirds reported using energy drinks at least once in the past year, with more than one in five consuming them once or more per month.

And worryingly, it was the younger high school students who were more likely to consume energy drinks than older ones.

Last month researchers at the University of Michigan reported that teenagers who drink energy drinks are much more likely to also drink alcohol and use drugs. They are also more likely to start smoking.

They suggested this could be because  teenagers who are ‘sensation-seekers’ or ‘risk orientated’ are more likely to drink energy drinks.

In turn, having these character traits means they are also more likely to experiment with other substances.

Energy drinks have been associated with a number of negative health effects, including cardiovascular symptoms, sleep impairment and nervousness and nausea. The side effects are caused by the beverages' high concentration of caffeine.

Study author Dr Sunday Azagba said: 'Marketing campaigns appear designed to entice youth and young adults. It's a dangerous combination, especially for those at an increased risk for substance abuse.'

The researchers from the University of Waterloo and Dalhousie University in Canada, are calling for limits on teens' access to the drinks and reduction in the amount of the caffeine in each can.

Dr Azagba said: 'The trends we are seeing are more than cause for concern, particularly because of the high rate of consumption among teenagers.

'These drinks appeal to young people because of their temporary benefits like increased alertness, improved mood and enhanced mental and physical energy.'

Dr Azagba said: 'In our opinion, at the very least steps should be taken to limit teens' access to energy drinks.'

She added there was also a need to increase public awareness and education about the potential harms of these drinks and to minimise the amount of caffeine available in each drink.

'This won't eliminate the problem entirely, but steps like these can help mitigate harm that appears to be associated with consumption of these drinks.

'This is something we need to take seriously. Change won't happen without a concerted effort.

The study was based on data from the 2012 Student Drug Use Survey, consisting of a representative sample of junior and senior high school students from three provinces in Atlantic Canada.


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