Need help kicking your sugar habit? This might help. – The Washington Post

Dragging the American public kicking and screaming away from its favorite sugary treats is not easy. But it is even more difficult to break the news that it isn’t just that doughnut that’s laden with sugar. A majority of packaged foods of just about every kind come with hidden sugars that most people don’t know about.

A new project by a team of 12 scientists and public health professionals at the University of California in San Francisco have taken on this daunting task., the Web site associated with the project, launched Monday promising the “unsweetened truth” about sugar. For the health conscious, the information should come as no surprise. But for a lot of Americans, the harsh truth might be harder to come to terms with.

Take some of the bits on the site’s homepage:

“Too much added sugar from soda and sports drinks can overload critical organs over time leading to serious disease.”

“Added sugar is hiding in 74 percent of packaged foods.”

“Too much fructose, a common form of sugar, can damage your liver, just like too much alcohol.”

via Need help kicking your sugar habit? This might help. – The Washington Post.


Sugar Stacks – How Much Sugar Is in That?

Check out this site if you’d like a visual of all the sugar you eat.

Would you eat a stack of 16 sugar cubes?     A label can tell you there are 39 grams of sugar in your soda, but what does that much sugar look like?

Yikes! That’s a lot of sugar!We’ve used regular sugar cubes 4 grams of sugar each to show how the sugars in your favorite foods literally stack up, gram for gram.

via Sugar Stacks – How Much Sugar Is in That?.

Study Examines Efficacy of Taxes on Sugary Drinks –

A new study of how taxes might be used to curb consumption of sugary drinks suggests that applying a tax based on the amount of calories contained in a serving rather than its size would be more effective.

The study, financed by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which has long advocated taxing sodas and other sugary drinks as part of its efforts to reduce childhood obesity, found that consumption of calories in drinks would drop 9.3 percent if a tax of four-hundredths of a penny for every calorie was added to the price, but fall by just 8.6 percent under a tax of half a cent for each ounce in a can or bottle.

A calorie-based taxing system would also be fairer to consumers, said Chen Zhen, a research economist at the food and nutrition policy research program at Research Triangle Institute and the lead author of the study.

“It provides a better incentive to the consumer to switch to lower-calorie drinks, which would be taxed at a lower rate than higher-calorie drinks,” Dr. Zhen said. “One of the concerns about taxing ounces of sugar-sweetened beverages is that consumers are paying the same tax whether they buy 12 ounces of a drink with 150 calories or 12 ounces of a drink with 50 calories.”

At a tax rate of four-hundredths of a penny per calorie, six cents would be added to a 12-ounce can of Coca-Cola, for example, Dr. Zhen said, while only four cents would be added to a 16-ounce bottle of Vitaminwater.

“From a public health point of view, it makes a lot of sense to tax the sugar, which is the most harmful part of these drinks,” said Harold Goldstein, executive director of the California Center for Public Health. “We want to shift consumers from drinking more sugar to drinking less, so taxing beverages with more sugar more makes sense.”

The California Senate last week passed a bill for warning labels on sugary soft drinks. The State Assembly has not yet voted on the bill.

Sales of sugary drinks already are falling, and Christopher Gindlesperger, a spokesman for the American Beverage Association, the trade group that represents the soda companies, noted that a variety of soda tax proposals have been defeated in various states over the last several years. Just last week, the Illinois House voted down a bill that would have taxed sugary soda at a rate of one cent an ounce, specifically citing the cost to consumers.

Arkansas and West Virginia tax soda — and are among the top 10 states for obesity. “Over the course of last several years, taxes on soft drinks and other sugar-sweetened beverages have gone nowhere, and it’s in large part because people don’t want it,” Mr. Gindlesperger said.

He also noted that one of the authors of the study, Ryan R. Ruff, was director of research and evaluation at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene in the Bloomberg administration, which waged a war on sugary drinks.

Dr. Zhen previously has done research finding that taxes on sugary drinks might not be as effective as a high tax on cigarettes in reducing consumption because consumers can substitute a high-calorie food that is not taxed for a high-calorie soda that is.

“We are not saying you should tax sugar-sweetened beverages,” Dr. Zhen said, speaking about the new study. “We’re saying that if you’re going to tax them, the best way of doing that is on the basis of calories. We are trying to stay away from the politics.”

The study was published online by the American Journal of Agricultural Economics.

Feed a Spouse, Starve an Argument?

Study using voodoo dolls suggests irritable partners should grab a snack before speaking

By Brenda Goodman

MONDAY, April 14, 2014 (HealthDay News) — Is your spouse biting your head off at the end of a long day? It may be hunger more than anger that’s fueling the bad mood, according to a new study that used voodoo dolls and air horns to test spousal aggression.

For the research, 107 middle-aged, married couples were given glucose meters to keep tabs on their blood sugar. They checked it once in the morning on an empty stomach and then again just before bed every day for 21 days. The couples had been married, on average, for about 12 years.

Each husband or wife was also given a voodoo doll and told it represented their mate. At the end of each day, couples were asked to stick pins in the dolls to reflect the level of anger they were feeling toward their partners. They could use up to 51 pins at a time.

They were asked to complete this task privately since a glimpse at a much-punctured doll might set off a spat all by itself, thus skewing the study results. Each spouse recorded the number of daily pins used in the dolls.

At the end of the study, the couples visited a lab where they completed an additional test. The test pitted each spouse against each other in a video game. The winner of each round of the game was allowed to blast the losing spouse with an unpleasant noise through headphones. Within certain limits (researchers only let the noise level go about as loud a fire alarm), winners could choose how long and how loudly to blare the noise, which researchers recorded as another measure of aggression.

In reality, the couples were playing against a computer and it randomly chose the winner so each person heard the unpleasant noise about the same number of times.

At the end of the study, the researchers compared daily and average blood sugar levels with each partner’s aggressive tendencies.

The result? People with lower blood glucose readings — those that fell under 98 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) — tended to be more aggressive toward their partners than those with evening readings over 121 mg/dL.

Those results remained significant even after researchers took into account how satisfied people said they were in their relationships, overall, and the sex of the partner who was being aggressive. Women tended to have higher daily pin-stick counts than men.

In a nutshell, the researchers said that means a hungry spouse is also more likely to be an angry spouse.

Their take home advice for marital bliss? Eat before you speak.

“Make sure you don’t talk to your spouse about something important when you’re hungry because hungry people are often cranky and irritable and angry, and we know that angry people are impulsive. Impulsive people say and do things they later regret,” said lead study author Brad Bushman, a professor of communication and psychology at the Ohio State University.

The study appeared online April 14 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

There are some important limits to what the study can really prove, however. The study was observational, which means it can’t prove cause-and-effect. It could be, for example, that stress and strife cause lower blood sugar levels, not the other way around.

And there wasn’t any kind of a control (or comparison) group used, which means researchers don’t have any idea how marital aggression might play out in couples who, for example, were asked to eat on a strict schedule to keep their blood sugar levels on a more even keel.

In spite of those limitations, an expert who was not involved in the study pointed to its creative methods.

“Voodoo dolls and loud noises provide novel ways to measure marital aggression. It’s a useful approach, because it’s not asking couples to describe their interactions — it’s a way to actually look at emotional responses,” said Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, a professor of psychiatry and psychology at the Ohio State University who studies the health effects of marriage. She was not involved with the new study.

Another expert, who’s a co-author of a book on marital arguing, also noted the unusual study set-up.

“I do have to say that sticking pins to a doll is a creative design — and their methods are likely not full of ‘holes’ — but other research shows that expressing anger leads to more, not less anger, so I would interpret the results with great care,” said Howard Markman, a distinguished professor at the University of Denver.

His advice?

“Having romantic and healthy dinners with your partner … banning conflict-oriented discussions during fun times, such as having dinner together, can prevent both anger and low blood sugar,” Markman said.

via Feed a Spouse, Starve an Argument?.

“Year of No Sugar” author explains health benefits of less sugar – The Denver Post

Tomato sauce can also be made sugar-free. (Cyrus McCrimmon, The Denver Post)

The next time you pick up a jar or can of tomato sauce at the grocery store, have a look at the ingredients. Almost always, you’ll find sugar listed on the label.

Which is sort of ridiculous. Why does tomato sauce need sugar? It’s used on spaghetti, lasagna and other savory foods.

But what’s this? Check out the nutrition facts label on the box of pasta. Sugar again! It’s even in single-serving cup-of-soup packages.

“Some of the top stealth sources of fructose are energy drinks, fruit yogurts, agave syrup and many foods labeled ‘low fat,'” said University of Colorado physician Richard J. Johnson, whose books “The Sugar Fix” and “The Fat Switch” discuss the problem in detail.

Sugar might be costumed as evaporated cane juice, table sugar, honey, fruit juice, powdered sugar, agave, crystalline fructose, brown sugar, molasses, maple syrup. It’s still sugar, and what is it doing in bacon? Or mayonnaise? Or ketchup?

That’s what blogger and author Eve O. Schaub wanted to know. Her epiphany began after she watched ” Sugar: The Bitter Truth.” That’s pediatric endocrinologist Robert Lustig’s documentary on his theory that fructose is more poison than sweetener, and that sugar is more fattening than fat.

These shortbread cookies, two with chocolate, are made without sugar. (Cyrus McCrimmon, The Denver Post)

“I was deeply alarmed,” Schaub said in a telephone interview from her home in Vermont.

“It made me think a lot about our palates, and the obesification of America. One hundred years ago, we didn’t have obesity or metabolic syndrome. What have we done that’s created those things?

“We had these studies in the 1960s and ’70s that said fat was bad. So we removed fat from everything. But then how do you make it taste good? Let’s put sugar in it. And it turns out that may have been the exact wrong thing to do.”

She began looking more closely at labels when she shopped for groceries. “There was sugar, in all its myriad guises,” Schaub writes in “Year of No Sugar,”the memoir inspired by Lustig’s video. Of course sugar is in sweet products, like cookies, cakes, candy and ice cream.

Fresh-baked sugarless bread is delicious. (Cyrus McCrimmon, The Denver Post)

But it’s also in peanut butter, sandwich bread, wine, milk, orange juice and dozens of other products that wouldn’t seem to need added sugar. Special K, promoted as a diet-friendly cereal, has three teaspoons of added sugar per 100 grams. Schaub found sugar in canned black beans and in a commercial Thai yellow curry sauce.

Those counterintuitive sugar-added products explain why a 2010 Robert Woods Johnson-funded study found that 33 percent of an American child’s diet consists of added sugar and solid fat.

“As a culture, are we normalizing this much sugar in what we eat?” Schaub said. “I don’t want to encourage anyone not to eat, but our consumption of sugar and fructose had quadrupled from what Americans were eating 100 years ago, and the number of obese Americans has septupled since then. All these issues are related. Fructose is the elephant in the room.”

Schaub, with Lustig, author David Gillespie, Michelle Obama, the Center for Science in the Public Interest and others, supports the proposed FDA nutrition-label modifications that specify the amount of added sugar and represent realistic serving sizes.

Dannon is among the companies getting ahead of the curve. It recently announced that by 2016, it will reduce sugar in yogurt products for children.

Some no-added-sugar advocates compare their campaign to the effort to print warning labels on cigarette packages.

“I think there are a lot of parallels between added sugar and tobacco,” Schaub said.

“Cigarettes do bad things to you, but the real harm is over a long period of time. It’s easy for people to dispute the harm. Fructose is the same way. The damage it does is over such a long period of time. It’s not as if a piano falls on your head and you die. It’s gradual and cumulative.”

via “Year of No Sugar” author explains health benefits of less sugar – The Denver Post.

Proposed sugar guidelines: Less than a soda a day –

CNN) — The World Health Organization wants you to stop eating so much sugar. Seriously.

In draft guidelines proposed this week, WHO is encouraging people to consume less than 5% of their total daily calories from sugars. The organization’s current guidelines, published in 2002, recommend eating less than 10% of your total daily calories from sugars.

Most Americans still consume much more.

Our sweet tooth increased 39% between 1950 and 2000, according to the USDA. The average American now consumes about three pounds of sugar each week.

“There is increasing concern that consumption of free sugars, particularly in the form of sugar-sweetened beverages, may result in … an increase in total caloric intake, leading to an unhealthy diet, weight gain and increased risk of noncommunicable diseases,” WHO said in a statement

Of particular concern, WHO said, is the role sugar plays in causing dental diseases worldwide.

For an adult at a normal body mass index, or BMI, eating 5% would be around 25 grams of sugar — or six teaspoons. That’s less than is typically found in a single can of regular soda, which contains about 40 grams of sugar.

To find the amount of calories from sugar in a product, multiply the grams by 4. For example, a product containing 15 grams of sugar has 60 calories from sugar per serving, according to the American Heart Association. If you eat 2,000 calories a day, that’s 3%.

WHO’s proposed guidelines apply to sugars added to foods by manufacturers, as well as those found naturally in honey, syrups, fruit juices and fruit concentrates. They do not apply to those found in fresh produce.

“Much of the sugars consumed today are ‘hidden’ in processed foods that are not usually seen as sweets,” the WHO website states.

Did you know sugar is often added to your frozen pizza? How about your bread, soup, yogurt and mayonnaise? As consumers became more concerned about the amount of fat in their food, manufacturers went out of their way to make low-fat items — often substituting sugar to preserve the taste.

Choosing foods with fewer added sugars at the grocery story may soon get a little easier. The Food and Drug Administration has proposed several changes to the nutrition labels you see on packaged foods and beverages.

The proposed labels would also note how much added sugar is in a product. Right now, it’s hard to know what is naturally occurring sugar and what has been added by the manufacturer.

The WHO guidelines will be open for public comment until March 31. Then WHO will finalize and publish its recommendations.

via Proposed sugar guidelines: Less than a soda a day –

Why Sugar Makes Us Feel So Good : The Salt : NPR

Last week, I reported that scientists are working their way toward a consensus that sugar is addictive. While some researchers are still hesitant to liken sweet stuff to drugs or alcohol, the evidence is accumulating to explain why some of us really struggle to resist or moderate our sugar intake. (I count myself among them.)

I mentioned a new book called Why Diets Fail by Nicole Avena, a neuroscientist and research psychologist at Columbia University who has done a lot of work in this area. She\’s particularly interested in the neurotransmitters and brain receptors involved in eating. In lab experiments with rats, she\’s shown how overeating tasty foods (like sugar) can produce changes in the brain and behavior that resemble addiction.

The Salt

Is Sugar Addiction Why So Many January Diets Fail?


Overeating, Like Drug Use, Rewards And Alters Brain

Avena has also just put out a clever TED-Ed video with colorful visuals to help explain the details of just why sugar makes our brains go bonkers.

As the video shows, the key player in the reward system of our brain — where we get that feeling of pleasure — is dopamine. Dopamine receptors are all over our brain. And doing a drug like heroin brings on a deluge of dopamine.

Guess what happens when we eat sugar? Yes, those dopamine levels also surge — though not nearly as much as they do with heroin.

Still, too much sugar too often can steer the brain into overdrive, the video says. And that kickstarts a series of \”unfortunate events\” — loss of control, cravings and increased tolerance to sugar. All of those effects can be physically and psychologically taxing over time, leading to weight gain and dependence.

The takeaway is pretty clear: If you\’re sensitive to sugar and inclined to indulge in a supersugary treat, do it rarely and cautiously. Otherwise, there\’s a pretty good chance that your brain is going to start demanding sugar loudly and often. And we\’re probably better off without that extra voice in our head.

via Why Sugar Makes Us Feel So Good : The Salt : NPR.

Is Honey Better Than Sugar? –

The Claim: Honey is a healthy alternative to sugar. It is packed with nutrients and better for diabetics.

Studies show a spoonful of honey eases coughs in kids over 1 year old. Photocuisine

The Verdict: Honey does have more nutrients—including antioxidants—than ordinary refined sugar, nutritionists say, but it isn\’t better for diabetics, as it still raises blood sugar. Health benefits of honey are mostly unproven, though some studies show taking a spoonful eases coughs in children over a year old and helps them sleep.

Honey contains 21 calories a teaspoon, compared with 16 calories for refined white sugar, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture\’s nutrient database. It is slightly sweeter than sugar, meaning you can use a little less, nutritionists say. It contains small amounts of vitamins—including vitamin C and folate—and minerals such as magnesium, while white sugar is nearly devoid of nutrients, according to the database.

Replacing table sugar with honey may have “modest benefits” nutritionally, says Toby Smithson, a Vernon Hills, Ill., dietitian and a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. But diabetics, who are advised to carefully limit carbohydrate intake, are better off using their carb budgets for fiber-rich foods, such as oatmeal, or fruits, such as apples, she adds.

Both table sugar and honey cause blood sugar to rise, which can be an issue for diabetics. Honey breaks down in the body \”a little more slowly\” than sugar, says Amanda Kirpitch, a nutritionist at the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston, but not enough to make a practical difference.

One benefit of honey is its antioxidants, nutrients that scientists believe may slow cellular damage caused by unstable molecules or atoms called free radicals. A 2009 study, published in the journal of the American Dietetic Association, found eight samples of supermarket honey had \”intermediate\” antioxidant activity. Specifically, honey had more antioxidant activity than refined white sugar, which had nearly zero, but less activity than dark and blackstrap molasses, which had the most of all the sweeteners tested.

Study author Katherine M. Phillips, senior research scientist at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University\’s Food Analysis Laboratory Control Center in Blacksburg, Va., says honey still has far fewer antioxidants per serving than antioxidant-rich foods such as red wine, blueberries or walnuts.

It isn\’t known how honey helps coughs and sore throats, says Pennsylvania State University pediatrics professor Ian M. Paul. Dr. Paul was the author of a 2007 study of 105 children that found honey was effective at calming coughs. It\’s possible the antioxidants in honey boost the immune system, or it could be simply that it coats the back of the throat, which becomes irritated during the common cold, he says. Dr. Paul\’s study, published in 2007 in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, was sponsored by the National Honey Board, an industry-funded group that operates under the USDA\’s oversight.

In a study of 300 children published last year in the journal Pediatrics, Israeli researchers found a spoonful of honey a half-hour before bedtime was more effective at reducing coughs and improving sleep than a placebo syrup. The American Academy of Pediatrics doesn\’t recommend giving honey to children under a year old because it can contain bacteria that causes infant botulism.

via Is Honey Better Than Sugar? –

NYC Health Dept unveils ad campaign targeting sugary drinks

NYC Health Dept unveils provocative new ad campaign targeting sugary drinks: \’Your kids could be drinking themselves sick\’

New York City’s Health Department has unveiled a new anti-obesity campaign highlighting the potential health risks of excessive sugary drink consumption.

The provocative new ads allege that “sugary drinks can bring on obesity, which can lead to diabetes and risk factors for heart disease”, and feature the strapline: ‘Your kids could be drinking themselves sick.’

The ads – which encourage New Yorkers to replace sugary drinks with water, seltzer, unsweetened teas, fat-free milk and fresh fruit – will run on TV for the next three weeks, and in subway cars through January, and form part of the Pouring on the Pounds campaign.

“Obesity is an epidemic in the United States and in New York City and it has, in turn, fueled the diabetes epidemic,” said Dr. Thomas Farley, Health Commissioner.

“Over 50% of adults with diabetes who receive medical care have high blood sugar levels, increasing their risk for serious complications such as amputation, kidney failure and blindness. Maintaining a healthy diet is one critical component to controlling blood sugar levels and possibly preventing these complications.”

A spokesman for the American Beverage Association was not impressed by the approach, however, telling FoodNavigator-USA: \”Here they go again. It\’s time for the NYC health department to stop misleading New Yorkers and start focusing on real solutions to obesity.\”

via NYC Health Dept unveils ad campaign targeting sugary drinks.

NYC refreshes anti-sugary drink campaign with new ads – CBS News

NYC refreshes anti-sugary drink campaign with new ads

New York City is trying a new approach to get people to lay off sugary drinks where soda is not the main target.

The city’s health department has produced ads warning people that drinking too much sweet teas, sports and energy drinks and fruit-flavored beverages can lead to obesity and other health problems. The $1.4 million campaign began appearing on TV and buses around the city on Monday, according to CBS New York.

While fruity drinks may sound healthy, they are often loaded with sugars that can be bad, the ads point out. Instead, consumers should try to drink fat-free milk, seltzer and water, and eat fresh fruit instead of drinking juice. People should downsize their drinks, and be wary of pre-sweetened beverages.

“Non-soda sugary drinks have been marketed as being healthier, with references to fruit and antioxidants, vitamins and energy,” New York City Health Commissioner Thomas Farley, a medical doctor, said to Bloomberg Businessweek. “We’re trying to warn them that these drinks can have as much or more sugar and calories as soda because we still have a major epidemic of obesity.” The ads are a continuation of a “Pouring on the Pounds” campaign that was started in 2009.

Farley pointed out that drinks can often be misleading. A 20-ounce Coke has 240 calories, while the same size Minute Maid lemonade with 3 percent juice has 260 calories. In addition, a 16-ounce orange-mango drink with 30 percent juice may have more than enough of the daily requirements for vitamin A and D, but it also contains high-fructose corn syrup and 230 calories.

More than one-third of U.S. adults are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Obesity has been linked to other conditions including heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, certain types of cancer and some of the leading causes of preventable death.

More than half of New Yorkers are overweight or obese, according to city statistics, and one in four children are obese.

Research presented during March 2013 at the American Heart Association’s meeting in New Orleans revealed that an estimated 180,000 people die each year from consuming sugary beverages.

The American Beverage Association (ABA) told CBS in a statement that it was disappointed in the city’s new campaign.

“Once again, the New York City Health Department is oversimplifying the complex set of factors behind obesity,” Chris Gindlesperger, senior director of public affairs for the ABA, said. “Selectively picking out common grocery items like sugar-sweetened beverages as a cause of obesity is misleading. The public does not believe that solutions to obesity are as simplistic as a ban on the size of just one item that people consume, nor should they.”


New York City’s ban on big sodas

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg had attempted to enact a city-wide ban on sugary drinks larger than 16-ounces at food establishments monitored by the city’s health department earlier this year. While milk-based and alcoholic beverages would be exempt, juices with low fruit content, sodas and other sugary drinks would have to adhere to the smaller size.

However, because refills and additional 16-ounce drinks would be sold, one study in April 2013 in PLoS One hypothesized that people might actually buy more sugary drinks.

Bloomberg’s proposal was put on hold when New York Supreme Court Justice Milton Tingling in Manhattan declared it arbitrary in nature.

© 2013 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

via NYC refreshes anti-sugary drink campaign with new ads – CBS News.