Food Label with Added Sugars Content Could Lower Heart Disease/Diabetes Risk

A label showing added sugars content on all packaged foods and sugary drinks could have substantial health and cost-saving benefits in the United States over the next 20 years, according to a new study published in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation. Using a validated model, researchers were able to estimate a significant reduction in cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes cases from 2018 to 2037, if such a mandated addition to the Nutrition Label was implemented.

Poor diet, especially with overconsumption of sugar, is a known, preventable cause of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced an added sugars-labeling requirement on the Nutrition Facts label in 2016.

“The purpose of our study was to estimate the impact of the FDA’s added sugars label on reducing sugar intake and preventing diabetes and cardiovascular disease,” says Renata Micha, R.D., Ph.D., of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University in Boston. “Our results indicate that timely implementation of the added sugars label could reduce consumption of foods and beverages with added sugars, which could then lead to an improvement in health and a reduction in healthcare spending.”

The study was conducted as part of a National Institutes of Health-funded initiative, Food-PRICE, at Tufts University to identify nutrition strategies that can have the greatest impact on improving diet and health in the U.S.

The researchers predict that between 2018 and 2037, the added sugars label would prevent more than 354,000 cardiovascular disease cases and lead to almost 600,000 fewer cases of type 2 diabetes. The estimated reduction in net healthcare costs would be more than $31 billion, after policy costs have been factored in, and not including societal costs, such as lost productivity.

“We and others have shown that food labeling can be an effective strategy to support informed consumer choice and effectively change consumer behavior,” said Micha.

The study authors believe that the added sugars label would likely encourage food and beverage-makers to reformulate their products. As a result, they calculate the impact to be twice as great as having the added sugars label alone, at more than 700,000 fewer cases of cardiovascular disease and 1.2 million fewer diabetes cases, with net healthcare cost savings of more than $57 billion.

In explaining the potential effect that a mandated added sugars label would have on sugar content, Micha points to recent experience with food manufacturers who reduced or removed trans fats from their products following trans-fat labeling on products in the U.S. “That suggests that mandated labeling of added sugars content would stimulate the food industry to reduce sugar in their products,” she said.

“Clear, easy-to-understand nutrition labels help guide everyone on the path to healthy eating,” says Linda Van Horn, PHD, RDN., American Heart Association volunteer expert and Professor and Chief of Nutrition in the Department of Preventive Medicine at the Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, in Chicago. “Consumers are better empowered to make more informed food choices that will help reduce their risk for heart disease and stroke and live longer, healthier lives.”

Although there have been recent declines in sugar consumption, mainly from sugary drinks, Americans still consume more than 300 calories per day from added sugar. The largest single source is sugary drinks, followed by cookies, cakes and pastries, candies and ice cream.

“Our findings may be conservative and underestimate the full health and economic impacts. The model only evaluated health benefits and cost-savings from diabetes and cardiovascular disease outcomes,” said Micha, who added that impact on other health concerns could further contribute to health benefits and reduced costs.

The study was conducted as part of the Food-PRICE: Food Policy Review and Intervention Cost-Effectiveness research initiative (www.food-price.org), a National Institutes of Health-funded collaboration led by Tufts University researchers to identify nutrition strategies that can have the greatest impact on improving diet and health in the US.

Source: American Heart Association

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Video: White, Green, Black, and Oolong Tea: What’s the Difference?

Did you know that many different types of tea come from the same plant?

It’s pretty amazing, considering the various flavors and colors, but what really sets each tea apart are the chemical changes that happen in the leaves during production.

In this video, we’re going to debunk a couple of myths behind the healthful and flavorful compounds found in each type of tea.

Watch video at You Tube (4:40 minutes) . . . .

Major Study Debunks Myth that Moderate Drinking Can be Healthy

Kate Kelland wrote . . . . . . . . .

Blood pressure and stroke risk rise steadily the more alcohol people drink, and previous claims that one or two drinks a day might protect against stroke are not true, according to the results of a major genetic study.

The research, which used data from a 160,000-strong cohort of Chinese adults, many of whom are unable to drink alcohol due to genetic intolerance, found that people who drink moderately – consuming 10 to 20 grams of alcohol a day – raise their risk of stroke by 10 to 15 percent.

For heavy drinkers, consuming four or more drinks a day, blood pressure rises significantly and the risk of stroke increases by around 35 percent, the study found.

“The key message here is that, at least for stroke, there is no protective effect of moderate drinking,” said Zhengming Chen, a professor at Oxford University’s Nuffield Department of Population Health who co-led the research. “The genetic evidence shows the protective effect is not real.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that around 2.3 billion people worldwide drink alcohol, with average per person daily consumption at 33 grams of pure alcohol a day. That is roughly equivalent to two 150 ml glasses of wine, a large (750 ml) bottle of beer or two 40 ml shots of spirits.

This latest study, published in The Lancet medical journal, focused on people of East Asian descent, many of whom have genetic variants that limit alcohol tolerance.

Because the variants have specific and large effects on alcohol, but do not effect other lifestyle factors such as diet, smoking, economic status or education, they can be used by scientists to nail down causal effects of alcohol intake.

“Using genetics is a novel way … to sort out whether moderate drinking really is protective, or whether it’s slightly harmful,” said Iona Millwood, an epidemiologist at Oxford who co-led the study. “Our genetic analyses have helped us understand the cause-and-effect relationships.”

The research team – including scientists from Oxford and Peking universities and the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, said it would be impossible to do a study of this kind in Western populations, since almost no-one there has the relevant alcohol-intolerance gene variants.

But the findings about the biological effects of alcohol should be the same for all people worldwide, they said.

Europe has the highest per person alcohol consumption in the world, even though it has dropped by around 10 percent since 2010, the WHO says, and current trends point to a global rise in per capita consumption in the next 10 years.

Source: Reuters


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Drinking Scalding-hot Tea May Increase Esophagus Cancer Risk

Carolyn Crist wrote . . . . . . . . .

Tea drinkers who love a scalding-hot cup of the beverage may want to let it cool down a bit to avoid an increased risk of esophagus cancer, a new study suggests.

Among tea drinkers followed for about 10 years, those who drank a lot of tea and liked it very hot – above 60 degrees Celsius (140 degrees Fahrenheit) – had nearly double the risk for esophageal squamous cell carcinoma compared to those who drank cooler tea and less tea in general, researchers report in the International Journal of Cancer.

“Drinking hot tea is a very common habit worldwide, and earlier studies have pointed to an association between drinking hot beverages and an increased risk of esophageal cancer,” study leader Dr. Farhad Islami of the American Cancer Society (ACS) in Atlanta, Georgia, said by email.

Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma is the sixth most common cause of cancer death worldwide. In the U.S., according to the ACS, the lifetime risk of developing the disease is about 1 in 132 in men and about 1 in 455 in women.

The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified drinking “very hot” beverages, above 65 C, as “probably carcinogenic” to humans.

Starting in 2004, researchers collected data on 50,000 adults living in the Golestan Province in northeastern Iran, where high rates of esophageal cancer have been reported and where residents drink an average of 1,100 milliliters (about 37 ounces) of black tea daily.

Early in the study, researchers poured cups of tea during interviews with participants to measure tea drinking temperatures and asked each person about their preferences for tea temperature, as well as how soon after pouring the tea they tended to drink it.

By 2017, 317 participants had developed esophageal squamous cell carcinoma. People who regularly drank tea at temperatures of 60 degrees C or higher were 41 percent more likely than those who drank it cooler to develop esophageal cancer. Those who preferred “very hot” tea had nearly two and a half times the risk of those who liked it cold or lukewarm. And those who drank their tea within two minutes of pouring it had 51 percent higher risk than those who waited six minutes or more.

Overall, people who drank at least 700 ml (24 ounces) daily at temperatures above 60 C had 91 percent higher risk than those who drank less tea, at lower temperatures.

“We are not asking people to stop drinking tea, but we recommend waiting a while until hot beverages cool down before drinking,” Islami said.

Even after researchers accounted for factors that could affect the risk of esophageal cancer, including use of tobacco, alcohol or opium, and sociodemographic factors, the heightened risk with scalding-hot tea remained.

“This is probably the first well-designed and informative study that actually went to people to measure the temperature, while most previous studies were based on self-reports,” said Dr. Dirk Lachenmeier, a food chemist and toxicologist at the Chemical and Veterinary Investigation Agency in Karlsruhe, Germany. “Would you know the temperature of your coffee this morning?”

Although more research is needed, the most likely reason for the increased cancer risk is a direct influence on throat tissues through consistent inflammation, said Lachenmeier, who wasn’t involved in the research.

New studies are also investigating serving temperatures in restaurants and cooling behaviors, such as using milk, he noted.

“Food serving establishments might, for example, change temperatures to lower default settings,” he said in an email. “In coffee, very often brewing is done at too high temperatures, which is also bad for the taste of the beverage.”

Source: Reuters


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