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Sugary drinks responsible for 1 in 200 deaths: Study

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Soda, sugar-sweetened beverages in frame.

By Charu Bahri

Sugar-sweetened beverages account for one in every 200 deaths caused by India’s rising tide of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity, according to a 2015 study.

“Over 80 percent of those deaths happen because sugary drinks are associated with weight gain and diabetes,” Dariush Mozaffarian, study co-author and dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition, Tufts University in the US, told IndiaSpend. Another 15 percent of those deaths occur because sugar-sweetened beverages are an established cause of heart disease, said Mozaffarian.

Heart disease and diabetes have reached epidemic levels in India, together responsible for 28 percent of all deaths.

Over the last decade, obesity has more than doubled among men, and risen one-and-a-half times among women, according to the latest National Family Health Survey.

One or two sugary drinks a day – what you might consider “moderate” consumption, and hence safe – are enough to cause trouble, according to scientific evidence.

People consuming one to two servings a day are at 26 percent greater risk of developing type-2 diabetes than those consuming no sugar-sweetened beverage or less than a serving a month.

Women consuming two or more sugary drinks a day had a 35 percent greater risk of developing coronary heart disease than infrequent consumers, according to this study. Men who averaged a can of a sugary beverage per day had a 20 percent higher risk of having a heart attack or dying from a heart attack compared to men who rarely consumed sugary drinks.

How tax hikes cut demand: The Mexican experience

India’s battle with excess weight and lifestyle diseases has turned the focus on high-calorie foods and beverages, and in turn, on taxation – a tool with the potential to lower consumption.

Higher taxes increase prices, which in turn lower demand. It’s a formula that has worked in Mexico.

A new 10 percent tax on soft drinks, introduced in January 2014 with the objective of lowering consumption 10-12 percent, actually lowered overall consumption by 12 percent, or 4.2 litres per person by December, a new Mexican study showed. Poorer households witnessed a 17 percent decline in consumption.

A 20 percent tax on sugar-sweetened beverages would cut India’s excess weight and obesity prevalence by three percent over a decade – and the cases of type-2 diabetes by 1.6% at current consumption growth rates – a 2014 study estimated.

That implies India would have 11.2 million fewer cases of obesity and 400,000 fewer cases of type-2 diabetes.

If soft drink consumption were to rise further – as it likely will, in line with the annual average growth of 13 percent since 1998 – the authors of the India study suggested that taxation would avert 4.2 percent of prevalent excess weight/obesity and 2.5 percent of type-2 diabetes cases.

In India, the weather impacts fizzy drink demand more than higher tax

In July 2014, the Indian government increased the tax on sugar-sweetened beverages by five percent, hoping to curb consumption.

With that, the tax on sugar-sweetened beverages touched approximately 18 percent, which sounds high, but not enough to make a sizeable dent in demand, according to IndiaSpend’s analyses.

Sales of aerated beverages increased 10 percent in 2014, according to the Indian Beverage Association, a lobby group. This is because “summer had already passed by July 2014, when the tax was increased”, Arvind Varma, secretary-general of the Indian Beverage Association, told IndiaSpend. About 40 percent of the soft-drink industry’s annual sales occur between April and June.

Sales of aerated beverages declined 10 percent between April and September 2015, “primarily because of the mild summer of 2015, but the additional five tax on aerated beverages has only served to deepen the impact on the industry”, said Varma.

Coca-Cola, the industry leader, referred to “unseasonal weather” for a “mid single-digit decline” in India sales between April and June 2015, with sales growing four percent between July and September.

Sales of sugar-sweetened fizzy beverages grew nine in 2014, when the extra tax was imposed, according to Euromonitor International, a market-intelligence company that projected similar sales growth in 2015.

If India’s last five percent tax hike has not served to curtail demand for sugary drinks, it may be time for another round of increases.

“India can expect the consumption of sugary beverages to fall in response to taxes that are high enough, because India, like Mexico, has a surfeit of price-conscious consumers and comparatively lower income levels, consumer segments that are more price-sensitive,” said Barry Popkin, professor of nutrition, University of North Carolina, and co-author of the Mexican study that advocates taxes as a disincentive.

In greater awareness, lies India’s health

The government should raise taxes, launch awareness campaigns, and curtail soft-drink availability, especially in schools and sports complexes, said health experts.

“Higher tax is definitely one of the strongest interventions to reduce consumption, but it should be accompanied by robust behavioral interventions to change social norms and perceptions,” said Manu Raj Mathur, research scientist and assistant professor at the Public Health Foundation of India advocacy. Mathur studies ways to reduce the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages among adolescents and school children.

“Increasing awareness about the risks and health consequences of high sugar intake would help inspire sorely-needed dietary changes-permanently,” said Hemalatha R of Hyderabad’s National Institute of Nutrition.

Mathur said their interactions with adolescents from private schools in Delhi and their parents and teachers show that most believe sugar-sweetened beverages to mainly be fizzy drinks. “They did not recognize fruit juices in tetra packs as sugar-sweetened beverages and even referred to them as healthy alternatives to Coke and Pepsi,” he said.

Packaged fruit juices contain added sugar, as do most dairy-based beverages and sport and energy drinks. Parents and teachers want prominent film stars and sports people to counter celebrity endorsements of sugary drinks. Such advertisements lead adolescents into believing that sugary beverages in moderation are not harmful – a prominent qualitative finding of Mathur’s study. (IANS/IndiaSpend.org)(Photo: www.natureworldnews.com)

  • Manthra koliyer

    Yes, sugary drinks are very harmful and affect our bodies.

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Children of Mothers With Diabetes Are Likely To Suffer From Heart Diseases, Says Study

The researchers also found higher rates for specific types of CVD children of mothers with diabetes

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Diabetes
Diabetes was categorised as pregestational (before pregnancy) or gestational (during pregnancy) and women with diabetic complications were identified in the Study. Pixabay

Children of mothers with diabetes have increased rates of early onset cardiovascular disease or CVD (conditions affecting the heart or blood vessels) from childhood up to the age of 40, the researchers have warned.

The increased rates were more pronounced among children of mothers with a history of CVD or diabetic complications, said the study published in the journal The BMJ.

“Our study provides evidence that children of mothers with diabetes, especially those with a history of CVD or with diabetic complications, had increased rates of early onset CVD throughout the early decades of life,” said study researchers from Aarhus University in Denmark.

If this association is shown to be causal, preventing, screening, and treating diabetes in women of childbearing age could be important not only for improving the health of the women but also for reducing long term risks of CVD in their offspring, the researchers added

The number of women diagnosed with diabetes before or during pregnancy has increased globally, and children of these women are more likely to have risk factors for future CVD, such as high blood pressure and high blood sugar levels. It is unclear, however, whether or to what extent exposure to diabetes in the womb increases the risk of developing CVD in offspring over a lifetime.

So an international team of researchers set out to evaluate associations between diabetes diagnosed before or during pregnancy and early onset CVD in children during their first four decades of life. They base their findings on national registry data for over 2.4 million children born without congenital heart disease in Denmark from 1977 to 2016.

Diabetes was categorised as pregestational (before pregnancy) or gestational (during pregnancy) and women with diabetic complications were identified.

Diabetes
Children of mothers with diabetes have increased rates of early onset cardiovascular disease or CVD (conditions affecting the heart or blood vessels) from childhood up to the age of 40, the researchers have warned. Pixabay

Other potentially influential factors, such as mother’s age, education, lifestyle and medical history were also taken into account. During up to 40 years of follow-up, children of mothers with diabetes had a 29 per cent increased overall rate of early onset CVD compared with children of mothers who did not have diabetes (cumulative risks: 17.8 per cent vs 13.1 per cent ).

The researchers also found higher rates for specific types of CVD children of mothers with diabetes, particularly heart failure (45 per cent), hypertensive disease (78 per cent), deep vein thrombosis (82 per cent), and pulmonary embolism (91 per cent).

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Increased rates were seen in each age group in childhood (before 20 years of age) and early adulthood (from 20 to 40 years of age), regardless of the type of diabetes they were exposed to (pregestational or gestational) and rates were similar for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, the study said. (IANS)