Half of North Americans use a drink linked to dementia on any given day.
Both sugary and artificially sweetened ‘diet’ drinks are linked to dementia by two new studies.
People who drink sugary beverages tend to have poorer memories, smaller brains and a smaller hippocampus (an area vital for learning and memory).
Diet sodas, though, don’t seem much safer.
A follow-up study found that people who drink diet sodas are three times more likely to develop dementia and stroke, compared to those who drink none.
Both studies show associations, so it doesn’t prove cause and effect.
Professor Sudha Seshadri, who led the research, said:
“These studies are not the be-all and end-all, but it’s strong data and a very strong suggestion.
It looks like there is not very much of an upside to having sugary drinks, and substituting the sugar with artificial sweeteners doesn’t seem to help.
Maybe good old-fashioned water is something we need to get used to.”
Excess sugar intake has long been linked to obesity, diabetes and heart disease.
Its effect on the brain is more of an unknown (although what are the chances it’s going to be good for us?!)
More surprising is the link between diet sodas and dementia.
The researchers suggest it could be down to the artificial sweeteners used.
Sugar is toxic to the brain
This is certainly not the first study to link sugar intake with dementia.
A recent study linked excess sugar intake with Alzheimer’s disease.
It suggested that too much glucose (sugar) in the diet damages a vital enzyme which helps fight the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.
High blood sugar levels have also been linked to memory problems.
The researchers in this study think that sugar could have a ‘toxic’ effect on the brain.
Study offers ‘substantial evidence that soda taxes work,’ nutrition professor says
As voters consider soda taxes in four U.S. cities, a new study finds that low-income Berkeley neighbourhoods slashed sugar-sweetened beverage consumption by more than one-fifth after the Northern California city enacted the first soda tax in the U.S.
Berkeley voters in 2014 levied a penny-per-ounce tax on soda and other sugary drinks to try to curb consumption and stem the rising tide of diabetes and obesity. After the tax took effect in March 2015, residents of two low-income neighbourhoods reported drinking 21 per cent less of all sugar-sweetened beverages and 26 per cent less soda than they had the year before, according to the report in the October American Journal of Public Health.
From a public health perspective, that is a huge impact.
That is an intervention that’s more powerful than anything I’ve ever seen aimed at changing someone’s dietary behaviour,” senior author Dr. Kristine Madsen said in a telephone interview.
Madsen, a professor of public health at the University of California at Berkeley, said the drop in sugary drink consumption surpassed her expectations, though it was consistent with consumption declines in low-income neighbourhoods in Mexico after it imposed a nationwide tax on sugar-sweetened beverages.
Just like tobacco, these are commodities we can live without that are killing us. – Malia Cohen
The Berkeley results also pleasantly surprised Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University.
“I hadn’t expected the effects to be so dramatic,” she said in an email. “This is substantial evidence that soda taxes work.”
Public health experts believe soda
helped drive American obesity rates
to among the highest in the world.
The soda industry has spent millions of dollars defeating taxes on sugary drinks in dozens of U.S. cities. But the tax passed easily — with 76 per cent of the vote — in Berkeley. In addition to soda, the measure covers sweetened fruit-flavoured drinks, energy drinks like Red Bull and caffeinated drinks like Frappuccino iced coffee. Diet beverages are exempt.
Weans residents off sweetened drinks
In June, the Philadelphia City Council enacted its own tax on sugar-sweetened beverages. The 1.5-cent-per-ounce tax is set to take effect in January, although soda trade groups have sued to try to block the measure.
Meanwhile, voters in Boulder, Colorado and the Bay Area cities of San Francisco, Oakland and Albany will vote on whether to tax their sugary beverages on November 8.
San Francisco voters also considered a soda tax in 2014, but it failed to garner a two-thirds majority needed for approval.
Public health officials and politicians point to the Berkeley study as proof of the power of an excise tax to wean residents of low-income neighbourhoods off sweetened drinks.
“The study is another tool highlighting how effective a tax on sugary beverages will be on changing the consumption rate,” San Francisco Supervisor Malia Cohen told Reuters Health.
“Just like tobacco, these are commodities we can live without that are killing us,” she said. Cohen wrote the San Francisco ballot measure.
Researchers surveyed 873 adults in low-income commercial neighbourhoods in Berkeley and 1,806 adults in similar neighbourhoods in nearby San Francisco and Oakland before and a few months after imposition of the soda tax.
Sweetened beverage consumption increased slightly in San Francisco and Oakland at the same time it dropped in Berkeley, the study showed. In Berkeley, water consumption spiked 63 per cent, compared to 19 per cent in San Francisco and Oakland, after the tax took effect.
The researchers attributed the surge in water consumption to a heat wave. But the American Beverage Association saw it as example of the study’s flaws.
In a statement, Brad Williams, an economist working for the trade group, criticized the research for using “unreliable and imprecise methodology” and producing “implausible” results.
The association’s criticism may hold grains of truth, Nestle said. But she largely dismissed it. “Obviously, the ABA is going to attack the results. That’s rule number one in the playbook: cast doubt on the science,” she said.
Public health experts believe soda helped drive American obesity rates to among the highest in the world. The U.S. spent an estimated $190 billion US treating obesity-related conditions in 2012.
Diabetes rates have almost tripled over the past three decades, while sugary beverage consumption doubled.
source: www.cbc.ca Thomson Reuters Posted: Oct 28, 2016
Study found postmenopausal women who ate more processed foods faced higher risk of mood disorder
WebMD News from HealthDay By Alan Mozes HealthDay Reporter
FRIDAY, Aug. 7, 2015 (HealthDay News) – Refined carbohydrates – such as those found in white bread, white rice and sodas – may harm more than the waistlines of older women. New research shows that eating too much of these highly processed foods might also raise their risk of depression.
Luckily, the opposite also appears to be true: The analysis also found that those who ate lots of whole grains, vegetables, fruits and dietary fiber appeared to see their risk for depression drop.
The study involved more than 70,000 women aged 50 to 79. The findings, the investigators said, only show an association between “refined” carbs and elevated depression risk, rather than a direct cause-and-effect relationship.
“[But] it is already well known that people who suffer from depression tend to crave carbohydrates,” said study author James Gangwisch, an assistant professor in the department of psychiatry with the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University in New York City.
So the researchers set out to look at the dynamic in reverse. The goal: to see whether consuming refined carbs – a known driver of high blood sugar levels – actually raises depression risk among women with no recent history of mental illness.
The apparent answer: Yes.
Gangwisch and his colleagues reported their findings Aug. 5 in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
The investigators reviewed nutrition and mental health records collected at 40 clinical centers across 24 states and the District of Columbia during the well-known Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) study.
None of the women had any history of substance abuse, depression or any other form of mental illness in the three years leading up to their enrollment in the study.
The result at the end of the study: The more refined sugars a woman ate, the higher her blood sugar levels and the greater her risk for a bout of depression.
As to why, Gangwisch said that “one likely explanation is spikes and troughs in blood sugar [levels] that result from the consumption of these foods. Blood sugar that is too high induces an elevated insulin [hormonal] response that can lower blood sugar to levels that induce a hormonal counter-regulatory response.”
The result can be a rise in anxiety, irritability and hunger. Similarly, plunging blood sugar levels often translate into fatigue, he said.
Asked whether refined carbs might drive depression risk among other groups of people, Gangwisch said that he “would presume that our results could also apply to men, although I cannot say definitively.”
But Connie Diekman, director of university nutrition at Washington University in St. Louis, cautioned that the dynamic could shift, depending on age and gender.
“The outcomes could be very different in younger women due to hormones, and of course in men,” she said. But “the important outcome to me, as a registered dietitian, is that the women who consumed diets higher in vegetables, fruits and whole grains had a lower incidence of depression. So, the question is not: do the [highly refined] foods contribute to depression? It is: do women at risk for depression simply choose these foods?”
That point was seconded by Lona Sandon, a registered dietician and assistant professor of clinical nutrition with the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas.
“When you feed your body and brain healthy, whole, nutrient-rich foods, you feel better,” she said. “You may feel better and have a better mood, simply because you know you are doing something good for your body,” Sandon suggested.
“What is not clear from the report is whether or not the depression or consumption of refined carbohydrates came first,” she added. “Many people make poor food choices when they are depressed or even stressed, and may reach for refined carbohydrates – like chocolate – in an attempt to improve their mood.”
Regardless, registered dietitian Penny Kris-Etherton, a professor of nutrition at Penn State University in University Park, Pa., said the current study is “part of an important piece of emerging literature.”
“People are just starting to explore the connection between nutrition and mental health,” she said. “And I think this work will add fuel to a fascinating area of study, which is certainly worthy of more investigation.”
SOURCES: James E. Gangwisch, Ph.D., assistant professor, department of psychiatry, division of experimental therapeutics, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, New York City; Connie Diekman, M.Ed., R.D., director, university nutrition, Washington University, St. Louis; Penny Kris-Etherton, Ph.D., R.D., registered dietitian and professor, nutrition, Penn State University, University Park, Penn.; Lona Sandon, R.D., assistant professor, clinical nutrition, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas; Aug. 5, 2015, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
(Reuters) – A California bill to require sugary soft drinks to carry labels warning of obesity, diabetes and tooth decay passed its first legislative hurdle on Wednesday, the latest move by lawmakers nationwide aimed at persuading people to drink less soda pop.
If enacted, the legislation would put California, which banned sodas and junk food from public schools in 2005, in the vanguard of a growing national movement to curb the consumption of high-caloric beverages that medical experts say are largely to blame for an epidemic of childhood obesity.
“By doing nothing, we are putting Californians at risk,” the bill’s author, Democratic state senator Bill Monning, said at a hearing on Wednesday. “The minimal burden on industry to comply with this bill is far outweighed by the benefits.”
In 2012, then-New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg spearheaded a citywide ban on sales of oversized sugary soft drinks, but the move was declared illegal by a state judge after a legal challenge by makers of soft drinks and a restaurant group. New York’s highest court has agreed to hear an appeal.
The California measure, passed on Wednesday by a vote of 5-2 by the state senate’s health committee, marks the second time that Monning, who represents the central coastal area around Carmel, has tried to influence consumers’ drink choices. Last year, he backed an unsuccessful measure that would have taxed the drinks.
Labeling them instead would educate consumers about the dangers of consuming too much sugar without requiring a controversial measure like a tax.
Efforts to curtail consumption of sugary drinks through taxes and other efforts have met fierce resistance from the U.S. food and beverage industry, which opposes the labeling bill.
Lisa Katic, who testified on behalf of the California Nevada Soft Drink Association, said the proposal, while well intentioned, “will do nothing to prevent obesity, diabetes or tooth decay, and may even make problems worse.”
According to Katic, the main source of added sugars in American diets are sandwiches and hamburgers, and not sodas or other soft drinks.
The bill next goes to the senate appropriations committee.
(Reporting by Sharon Bernstein, editing by G Crosse and Dan Whitcomb)