Studies more firmly tie sugary drinks to obesity
By MARILYNN MARCHIONE - AP Chief Medical Writer - Associated PressFriday, September 21, 2012
New research powerfully strengthens the case against soda and other sugary drinks as culprits in the obesity epidemic.
A huge, decades-long study involving more than 33,000 Americans has yielded the first clear proof that drinking sugary beverages interacts with genes that affect weight, amplifying a person's risk of obesity beyond what it would be from heredity alone...
This means that such drinks are especially harmful to people with genes that predispose them to weight gain. And most of us have at least some of these genes.
In addition, two other major experiments have found that giving children and teens calorie-free alternatives to the sugary drinks they usually consume leads to less weight gain.
Collectively, the results strongly suggest that sugary drinks cause people to pack on the pounds, independent of other unhealthy behavior such as overeating and getting too little exercise, scientists say.
That adds weight to the push for taxes, portion limits like the one just adopted in New York City, and other policies to curb consumption of soda, juice drinks and sports beverages sweetened with sugar.
Now what's wrong with the article and the studies that make this claim?
1. The article on genetics and soft drinks did not control for other forms of sugar or interaction with other behaviors. Or other genes for that matter. For instance, there are other genetic mutations that appear regulate obesity which interact with the amount of fiber in one's diet.
2. Even if gene-soft drink association (let's just say sugar) is established, the contribution of the genetic factor may be -- and has been reported to be -- quite small. For instance, most of us have genetic mutations that increase the risk of diabetes or cancer. But the relative contribution of those genes and their mutations to winding up with either disease is very, very small in most of us. Other factors and genetic interactions trigger disease and influence it's progression. Getting a virus or infection, or having high levels of inflammation, etc. can lead to epigenetic changes that shape disease risk. Shame on the report and the researchers for not qualifying their message in this way.
3. Similarly, the reporter asserts that sugary drinks are the biggest source of calories in the American diet. Wrong. The USDA's Dietary Guideline Advisory Committee gives the breakdown for most Americans...
Yeast breads (129 calories per day)
• Chicken and chicken mixed dishes (121 calories per day)
• Soda/energy/sports drinks (114 calories per day)
• Pizza (98 calories per day)
Soft drinks are not even the biggest source of sugar among many age groups. (Snacks are) Nor are they problem. What is? We don't eat enough plant-based fiber, we take in too much saturated fat.. And we don't exercise. The DGAC again:
Several distinct dietary patterns are associated with health benefits, including lower blood
pressure and a reduced risk of CVD and total mortality. A common feature of these diets is an
emphasis on plant foods. Fiber intake is high and saturated fat is typically low. When
total fat intake is high, that is, more than 30 percent of calories, the predominant fats are
monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Carbohydrate intake is typically in the range of 50 to 60
percent of calories, but these often include whole grain products with minimal processing, as well as
cooked dry beans and peas. The totality of evidence documenting a beneficial impact of plant-based
dietary patterns on CVD risk is remarkable and worthy of recommendation.
The so-called 'empty' calories don't come from soft drinks but the food we eat with them. But soft drinks are a sweeter target and feed into the narrative that corporations process food to kill us for the sake of profits. The same capitalism = pollution story that has been applied to energy, chemicals and pharmaceuticals is being applied to food.
When you think about it, the professional critics and their recording secretaries (the media) are attacking the four human innovations that have made life on t his planet better and healthier.