Excessive intake of sugar-sweetened beverages like soft drinks and fruit juices that offer no nutritional value other than calories to the diet of teenagers can elevate their risk of heart disease in later life, claims a new study. According to health experts, there is growing evidence of the link between excess sugar consumption among youngsters and a number of health conditions such as obesity, hypertension, elevated triglycerides that are considered markers for heart disease. Lead author of the study, Jean Welsh, post-doctoral fellow at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta stated, “We need to be aware of sugar consumption. “It’s a significant contributor of calories to our diet and there are these associations that may prove to be very negative. “Sugar-sweetened soft drinks and sodas are the major contributor of added sugar and are a major source of calories without other important nutrients. “Parents and adolescents need to become aware of the amount of added sugar they are consuming and be aware that there may be some negative health implications if not now, then down the line.”
According to the American Heart Association (AHA) recommendations, a teenager who requires 2,200 calories may have an upper limit of 150 calories from added sugar while someone with an energy requirement of 1,800 calories per day should limit added sugar to 100 calories. However, the National Health and Nutrition Survey (NHANES) of 2,157 teenagers aged 12 to 18 years found that the average teenager consumes close to 500 calories added sugars each day. “Adolescents are eating 20 per cent of their daily calories in sugars that provide few if any other nutrients,” said Jean Welsh.
In order to get an insight into the impact of high sugar consumption in adolescence on the risk of cardiovascular disease in later life the researchers studied 646 teenagers. For the purpose of the study, they analyzed the 24-hour dietary recall by teens with data from the US Department of Agriculture on sugar content in foods. It was noted that the teens’ average daily consumption of added sugars was three to five times higher that the limit acceptable by the AHA.
The study found, that teens who consumed 30 percent or more of total calories from added sugars exhibited lower levels of HDL, or “good” cholesterol and higher levels of triglycerides and LDL or “bad” cholesterol, compared to those who ate less than 10 percent of added sugar. In addition, it was observed that obese and overweight teenagers who consumed more sugar also had the most insulin resistance.
Although the study hints at a possible association between added sugar intake and poor cholesterol profiles as well as other heart disease risk factors, researchers feel there is need for more research to substantiate the findings. Welsh stated, “We need controlled studies to really understand the role of added sugars in cardiovascular disease. But it is important to be aware of the added sugar in the foods we all eat.”
The study is published in the American Heart Association (AHA) journal ‘Circulation.’
Could drinking one or more artificially sweetened, carbonated diet sodas a day boost a woman's odds of premature delivery? A new study from Denmark suggests such a link.dblclick('xxlA');
The researchers looked at the soft drink habits of nearly 60,000 Danish women enrolled in a national study there from 1996 to 2002. The investigators found a link between the intake of diet carbonated drinks and, to a lesser extent, diet noncarbonated drinks and delivering a baby early.
The study is published online and in the September print issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. In the report, the researchers conclude: “Daily intake of artificially sweetened soft drinks may increase the risk of preterm delivery.”
The researchers defined preterm as delivering before 37 weeks' gestation. They categorized the women into groups depending on beverage drinking habits: those who never drank soft drinks or those who drank less than one per week, one to six per week, one each day, two or three per day, or four or more daily. In all, 4.6 percent of the women delivered early, and one-third of those deliveries were medically induced. The team found no association between the premature delivery and the intake of carbonated drinks sweetened with sugar.
However, compared with those who never drank the beverages, women who downed four or more diet (artificially sweetened) carbonated drinks a day were 78 percent more likely to deliver early than women who never drank the beverages. And those who had four or more diet, noncarbonated drinks daily were 29 percent more likely to deliver early. Those who had one or more carbonated diet drinks a day were 38 percent more likely to deliver early.
Why the diet drinks, especially, were linked with early delivery is not known, but the researchers speculate that the link may be driven by high blood pressure disorders in pregnancy. They note that other studies have found a link between soft drinks and high blood pressure in non-pregnant women.
Want to eat well, but find it a challenge when you have to eat and run?
Luckily, many “fast food” restaurants are making it easier with healthier menu options. These tips will help you choose wisely!
Super-sized portions usually cost only a little extra, but can pack a whopping nutritional blow. Research shows the larger the serving in front of us, the more we tend to eat.Keep in mind: double the portion = double the calories.
|Compare the Calories,
Fat and Sugar
|Double patty hamburger
with dressing or mayonnaise
+ large fries + large drink
|Double patty hamburger
+ large fries + large soft drink
|Single patty hamburger
+ small fries + smll soft drink
|Single patty hamburger
+ side salad* + 2% milk
* with low fat dressing
Tip: If you can't bear to pass on a deal, consider splitting a large portion with someone else. Smaller serving sizes are especially important for young children.
Watch the “extras”
Those little “extras” like salad dressings, sandwich sauces, mayo, spreads nd gravy can add a lot of fat and calories to your meal. Choose:
veggies as a tasty garnish for sandwiches
lower-fat condiments like ketchup, mustards and relish
lower-fat salad dressings and use only a small amount
Design it yourself
Looking for more ways to keep the calories and fat in check? Want to boost your nutrient and fibre intake? Made-to-orderoptions are a great solution. When you order a sandwich, burger, wrap, salad or pizza, opt for:
Healthy eating is a matter of balancing your food choices over time. So if you overindulge at one meal, try to make healthier choices at your next meals.
Tip: Change your order to add some variety. Take your taste buds on a global adventure with sushi, shwarma or stir-fry.
Go for the grill
Grilled foods are usually much lower in fat and calories than deep fried foods. Go for grilled meats, poultry, fish and veggies rather than deep fried. For example, a battered and deep fried chicken sandwich may have more than twice as much fat as a grilled chicken sandwich.
Not all salads are created equal. The dressings can make them extra high in fat and calories. For example, a chicken Caesar salad with dressing can have about as many calories and as much fat as a deep fried chicken sandwich.
Large servings of soft drink and other sweetened beverages provide empty calories. A large soft drink typically contains about a third of a cup (85 mL) of sugar. Shakes can be very high in fat and calories too. Quench your thirst with water, milk, 100% fruit juices, fruit smoothies and vegetable cocktails.
Tip: Add milk to tea and coffee instead of cream to save calories and fat. Keep in mind that flavoured syrups and whipped cream added to some coffees and teas may net you as much as 200 to 300 calories or more.
Make wise breakfast choices to give you the energy and nutrients you need for a great start to your day. Choose at least 3 of the 4 food groups.
Tip: Try to limit higher fat options like doughnuts, pastries, muffins, croissants, bacon, sausages and fried hash browns.
Fill up on fibre
Make fibre-rich choices more often: whole grain breads; vegetables and fruit; beans, lentils and chickpeas (in chili, salads, and falafel); nuts and seeds.
Think fresh and light when it comes to dessert. Fresh fruit, frozen yogurts, ice milk and fruit sherbets are nutritious alternatives to baked or fried goods and ice creams. And be portion wise, some large cookies may add as much as 400 or more calories.
Get the facts
Ask for nutrition facts at the restaurant. Compare the calories, fat, sugar, fibre and key nutrients – you may be surprised!
Source: Dietitians of Canada. Reproduced with permission.