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Prevention of 3 lakh diabetes cases possible by cutting sugar in fizzy drinks: Lancet

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Washington: A significant study revealed that by cutting sugar in sweetened drinks by 40 percent, over three lakh obesity-related Type 2 diabetes can be prevented.

An average reduction in energy intake of 38.4 kcal (calories) per day by the end of the fifth year will lead to an average body weight decrease of 1.20 kg in adults, leading to a reduction in overweight and obese adults by approximately 0.5 million and 1.0 million, respectively, researchers have found.

This would, in turn, prevent 274,000-309,000 obesity-related Type 2 diabetes over the next two decades.

If fruit juices were excluded from sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs), the corresponding reduction in energy intake and body weight would be 31.0 kcal/day and 0.96 kg, respectively.

“This would result in a 0.3 million cases reduction in overweight and a 0.8 million cases reduction in obesity, which would, in turn, prevent around 221,000-250,000 diabetes cases over two decades,” the study noted.

The study, published in The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology journal, was led by Professor Graham MacGregor, who chairs the Action for Sugar group.

The impact was greater in adolescents, young adults and individuals from low-income families who consume more sugary drinks.

According to the authors, the strategy, if adopted would lead to an extensive reduction in energy intake from sugar-sweetened beverages and could, therefore, lower the predominance of overweight, obesity, and Type 2 diabetes in the long term.

“The findings provide strong support for the implementation of the proposed strategy,” they added.

They conclude that “individuals should also reduce their consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages in the long term, but this can be difficult because of the advertising power of industry”.

“Our proposed strategy provides an innovative and practical way to gradually reduce energy intake from sugar-sweetened beverages and its combination with other strategies, including a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages, would produce a more powerful effect,” they noted.

Dr Tim Lobstein, director of Policy, World Obesity Federation London wrote in a linked comment piece that the study has proved to be extremely essential to policymakers. (IANS)

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Multi-gene Test May Help to Diagnose The Risk of Heart Disease, Diabetes And More

But specialists in heart disease and genetics who weren’t involved with the research called the new findings exciting because of their scope

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Gene test
Stephanie Richurk, a nurse at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, sorts blood samples collected from participants in the "All of Us" research program in Pittsburgh, Aug. 7, 2017. (VOA)

You know your cholesterol, your blood pressure … your heart gene score? Researchers say a new way of analyzing genetic test data may one day help identify people at high risk of a youthful heart attack in time to help.

Today, gene testing mostly focuses on rare mutations in one or a few genes, like those that cause cystic fibrosis or sickle cell disease, or the BRCA gene responsible for a small fraction of breast cancer. It is less useful for some of the most common diseases, such as heart disease or diabetes, because they are influenced by vast numbers of genes-gone-wrong working together in complicated ways.

Monday, researchers reported a new way to measure millions of small genetic variations that add up to cause harm, letting them calculate someone’s inherited risk for the most common form of heart disease and four other serious disorders. The potential cardiac impact: They estimated that up to 25 million Americans may have triple the average person’s risk for coronary artery disease even if they haven’t yet developed warning signs like high cholesterol.

“What I foresee is in five years, each person will know this risk number, this ‘polygenic risk score,’ similar to the way each person knows his or her cholesterol,” said Dr. Sekar Kathiresan who led the research team from the Broad Institute, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School.

If the approach pans out and doctors adopt it, a bad score wouldn’t mean you’d get a disease, just that your genetic makeup increases the chance — one more piece of information in deciding care. For example, when the researchers tested the system using a DNA database from Britain, less than 1 percent of people with the lowest risk scores were diagnosed with coronary artery disease, compared to 11 percent of people with the highest risk score.

heart disease
Multi-gene Test May Find Risk for Heart Disease and More. Pixabay

“There are things you can do to lower the risk,” Kathiresan said — the usual advice about diet, exercise, cholesterol medication and not smoking helps.

On the flip side, a low-risk score “doesn’t give you a free pass,” he added. An unhealthy lifestyle could overwhelm the protection of good genes.

The scoring system also can predict an increased risk of Type 2 diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, breast cancer and an irregular heartbeat called atrial fibrillation, the team reported in the journal Nature Genetics — noting that next steps include learning what might likewise lower those risks.

It doesn’t require the most sophisticated type of genetic testing. Instead, Kathiresan can calculate risk scores for those five diseases — eventually maybe more — simply by reanalyzing the kind of raw data people receive after sending a cheek swab to companies like 23andMe.

A geneticist who specializes in cardiovascular disease, he hopes to open a website where people can send in such data to learn their heart risk, as part of continuing research. Kathiresan and co-author Dr. Amit Khera, a Mass General cardiologist, are co-inventors on a patent application for the system.

Other scientists and companies have long sought ways to measure risk from multiple, additive gene effects — the “poly” in polygenic — and Myriad Genetics has begun selling a type of polygenic test for breast cancer risk.

But specialists in heart disease and genetics who weren’t involved with the research called the new findings exciting because of their scope.

Cancer
Cancer Ribbon. Pixabay

“The results should be eye-opening for cardiologists,” said Dr. Charles C. Hong, director of cardiovascular research at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. “The only disappointment is that this score applies only to those with European ancestry, so I wonder if similar scores are in the works for the large majority of the world population that is not white.”

Hong pointed to a friend who recently died of a massive heart attack despite being a super-fit marathon runner who’d never smoked, the kind of puzzling death that doctors have long hoped that a better understanding of genetics could help to prevent.

“Most of the variation in disease risk comes from an enormous number of very tiny effects” in genes, agreed Stanford University genetics professor Jonathan Pritchard. “This is the first time polygenic scores have really been shown to reach the level of precision where they can have an impact” on patient health.

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First, the Boston-based team combed previous studies that mapped the DNA of large numbers of people, looking for links to the five diseases — not outright mutations but minor misspellings in the genetic code.

Each variation alone would have only a tiny effect on health. They developed a computerized system that analyzed how those effects add up, and tested it using DNA and medical records from 400,000 people stored in Britain’s UK Biobank. Scores more than three times the average person’s risk were deemed high. (VOA)