Sunday, September 23, 2012

Sugary drinks linked to obesity

Health experts the world over have long believed that the dramatic rise in the consumption of sugary drinks during the past few decades has paralleled the equally dramatic rise in obesity.

A new study in the U.S. now reinforces that notion, giving public health officials the much-needed evidence to consider clamping down on the consumption of sodas and other sweetened beverages that are high in calories but provide next to nil nutrition.

The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, follows research involving more than 33,000 American men and women, which proved that sweetened drinks raise the genetic risk of obesity, as they interact with genes that affect weight.

The researchers selected 32 variations of genes that are known to be associated with Body Mass Index to establish a genetic profile of the participants. They also determined the participants’ eating habits, their consumption of sweetened beverages and exercise habits.
The decades-long research involved three long-running studies that separately and collectively reached the same conclusions.

In all the three studies, “the combined genetic effects on Body Mass Index and obesity risk among persons consuming one or more servings of sugar-sweetened beverages per day were approximately twice as large as those among persons consuming less than one serving per month”, the researchers said.

Obesity has today become a major threat to people’s health all over the world. So great is the threat that it has been classified as an epidemic.

Obesity and overweight are the fifth leading risk for global deaths. They are linked to more deaths than underweight.

The World Health Organisation defines obesity and overweight as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that may impair health.

The good news is that these conditions are preventable.

Experts believe that changes to our diet and lifestyle in the past three decades have contributed to the obesity epidemic.

Consumption of junk food and calorie-laded sugary drinks, a sedentary lifestyle and lack of physical activity are the three main causes of people piling on the pounds.

Of the three, the largest blame goes to sugar-sweetened beverages that are high in calories but low in nutrition but whose consumption has increased dramatically in the past few years.

In the U.S. diet, sugary drinks are the single biggest source of calories. They are blamed for the fact that a third of the U.S. children and teens and more than two-thirds of adults are obese or overweight.

A new damning report says that if the current trend continues then by 2030 more than half the population of the U.S. will be obese!

The new study vindicates what New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is trying to do in his city. In a trend-setting move, the city’s Board of Health has passed legislation banning the sale of super-sized colas in most public outlets.

The ban does not come into effect until March 2013 but whether this limited clamp will have the desired result of reducing the consumption of colas and thereby bringing down the obesity rate remains to be seen but it seems a well-intentioned measure.

At least, well worth adopting in other cities in the U.S. and around the world where cola consumption is high.

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