Friday, July 31, 2015

Sugary drinks lead to thousands of deaths, study finds

CBS, | July 2015

Drinking sugary beverages such as sodas and fruit drinks may lead to 184,000 deaths each year worldwide, according to a study published in the journal Circulation, and researchers say the problem will only get worse if dietary changes aren't made.
Sugary drinks lead to thousands of deaths, study finds
A government panel of nutrition experts is suggesting taxes on sodas and snacks along with incentives for healthy eating to encourage Americans to eat better. (Photo: Justin Sullivan, Getty Images)
In the global report looking at the health impact of sugar-sweetened beverages, researchers at Tufts University in Boston started with the number of deaths and disabilities from diabetes, heart disease, and cancers; then they examined 62 dietary surveys of more than 600,000 people across 51 countries from 1980 to 2010. Using meta-analyses of other published evidence on the harms of sugary beverages, they were able to calculate the direct impact on these chronic, deadly diseases.

The researchers concluded that in 2010, consumption of sugary drinks may have lead to approximately 133,000 deaths from diabetes, 45,000 deaths from heart disease, and 6,450 deaths from cancer.

"The numbers are absolutely staggering," medical contributor Dr. Holly Phillips told CBS News.

In the study, sugary drinks were defined as any sugar-sweetened sodas, iced teas, fruit drinks, and sports or energy drinks, as well as homemade sugary beverages. One hundred percent fruit juices were excluded. "That's because it actually has some nutritional value," Phillips explained.

Mexico had the highest rate of deaths attributable to sugary drinks, with an estimated 405 deaths per million adults (24,000 total deaths). In the United States, an estimated 125 deaths per million adults were attributable to drinking sugary beverages (25,000 total deaths).

Overall, younger adults had a higher percentage of chronic diseases as a result of sugary drink consumption than older adults -- exceeding 1 in 10 of all diabetes and obesity-related deaths in nearly every region of the world -- suggesting the problem will only get worse in the future.

When asked about future projections 10 or 20 years from now, based on today's rates of sugary beverage intake, lead study author Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian told CBS News that "disease would substantially increase, by at least two-fold over current estimates."

"I think the real takeaway here is that with the added sugary beverages, there are no health benefits," Phillips said. "The researchers want to make a call for a global effort to get rid of them from our diet all together."

The study authors acknowledge that other dietary risk factors account for higher death rates, including sodium intake, which accounted for about 2.7 million deaths in 2010, and inadequate intake of fruits and vegetables, which led to 4.7 million deaths that year. But unlike these factors, which would require major long-term changes to agricultural systems and the food supply, sugary drink consumption is a single factor that can be easily reduced.

"Sodium is in everything," Mozaffarian said. "It's ubiquitous across the whole food supply. And everyone needs to eat fruits and vegetables but most people don't consume enough so the whole population is affected. But sugar-sweetened beverages only affect those who drink them and all we have to do is just stop buying them."

Mozaffarian suggested several strategies to reduce sugary drink intake worldwide. "We have very good science about the effective policies to reduce sugar-sweetened beverages," he said. "One effective policy is taxation. We know the change of the price reduces consumption."

Mozaffarian pointed to a preliminary report released earlier this month showing an average reduction of six percent in sugary drink consumption in Mexico, which passed a 10 percent tax on sugar-sweetened beverages in 2014.

He also called for quality standards in marketing and a shift in societal views of sugary drinks.

"We need to talk a lot more about the harms of sugar-sweetened beverages to change the culture so that you don't have Beyoncé and Michael Jordan -- two people whom I admire -- selling soda and sports drinks. Celebrities and athletes would never in good conscience advertise for cigarettes, so I think we need to change the culture to where it's just not okay to push soda."

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In Health,
The Naturally Botanicals Team

CBS, | July 2015

Wednesday, July 1, 2015


Courtesy of Naturally Savvy | By Andrea Donsky on September 09, 2014

If you don't know whether or not you're eating genetically modified organisms, you're not alone—at least in the U.S. Despite the many petitions and appeals for state or federal regulations on labeling foods that contain GMOs, none have passed. And that means companies still don't have to disclose whether or not a product includes genetically modified organisms. What's the big deal, you ask?
More than 60 countries require GMO labeling (or ban GMOs altogether) for a number of reasons. While there are many, these are some of the most common concerns:
1. Are they safe? Monsanto, Syngenta, DuPont, Dow—they'll all tell you their GMO products have met safety requirements, but the truth is, long term studies haven't been done on their impact to the human body. USDA approval requires several processes that prove safety, but GMOs have only been in our diet since the mid-'90s, so it's difficult to know what the long-term health impacts truly are.
2. Known health risks: What we do know is that when genetic modification happens, genes are forced to express certain traits (including pesticides). To do this, the scientists "turn on" all the gene's components, which can mean releasing allergens that would normally not be expressed in a non-GMO variety. Experts like Jeffrey Smith suggest this is directly related to the rise in health issues.
3. Heavy use of toxic pesticides and herbicides: By design, genetically modified seeds require pesticides and herbicides. While some manufacturers have claimed the pesticide use would decrease over time, it's only increased, according to a peer-reviewed 2012 study.
4. Pesticides and digestive health: The main function of herbicides and pesticides is to kill unwanted plants and insects. Glyphosate—the most common herbicide used on GMO crops—has been shown to negatively impact the gut bacteria of humans.  Jeffrey Smith's recent film Genetic Roulette highlights the parallel of GMOs in our diet and the rise in digestive health issues and food allergies.
5. Cancer: Both pesticides and GMOs have been connected with an increased risk of certain types of cancer. There are additonal health concerns too including reproductive issues, autism and even heart disease.
6. Environmental impact: GMO crops and their companion pesticides and herbicides wreak havoc on the environment including polluting air, water and soil. Glyphosate—marketed by Monsanto as the herbicide Roundup—is in effect, an antibiotic, which can destroy soil quality and thus impair the plant's nutritional value as well. Cross-polination between GMO and non-GMO crops is common as well, and can destroy natural plant varieties in the wild.
7. Superbugs and superweeds: Despite the claims that pesticides and GMO crops can relieve farmers of crop-destroying insects and plants, the opposite is showing to be true. Farmers in the Midwest are now battling superbugs and superweeds resistant to pesticides. They're damaging crops and farm equipment and costing the farmers more money in having to apply heavier doses of toxic pesticides.
8. Patent issues: At the core of the GMO industry is the corporate ownership of seed and seed patents. Companies like Monsanto are notorious for suing small farmers for saving seeds or if GMO crop drift pollinates on their land.
9. Corporate protection: Earlier this year, the U.S. government passed a bill nicknamed the "Monsanto Protection Act." In essence, it grants biotech companies immunity from the courts, even if a judge determines it's unlawful to plant GMO crops, the companies can do it anyway.
10. Prolific presence: Whether or not GMOs are safe has yet to be determined, yet every day, millions of Americans eat them unknowingly due to the lack of labeling requirements. Are you a lab rat?  Don't you at least have the right to know what you're eating?

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In Health,
The Naturally Botanicals Team