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Should Sugar Be Removed From The FDA's 'Safe' List?

>> Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Sounds ridiculous, doesn't it - the notion that sugar, which was originally revolutionary in sustaining humankind, should now be considered unsafe (in excess).  There is in fact a longstanding strong outcry from public health advocates to the FDA to pull sugar from its 'generally regarded as safe' list, and a recent study adds to the data to tell us why.

The study, published by Yang and colleagues in JAMA Internal Medicine, examined data from the NHANES database to understand the relationship between added sugar consumption and risk of death from cardiovascular disease.

The study found that:

  • The risk of death from cardiovascular disease (CVD) starts to rise when intake of added sugar makes up over 15% of total daily calorie intake. (15% of daily calories in a 2,000 calorie diet is equivalent to a 600mL bottle of pop)
  • People who consume 1/3 or more of their daily calories as added sugar are at a 4 times increased risk of death from CVD. (According to the study, about 10% of Americans were consuming this amount)
  • Drinking one 355 mL can of soda per day increases the risk of CVD death by almost one third, independent of total calories consumed and other cofactors.
  • These findings were largely consistent, regardless of body weight, age, or physical activity levels.

As the excellent accompanying editorial by Laura Schmidt, PhD, notes:

"Physicians may want to caution patients that, to
support cardiovascular health, it is safest to consume less than

15% of their daily calories as added sugar."

The authors are picking on soda and other sugar sweetened beverages in particular for good reason - these beverage constitute 37% of the total added sugar intake in the American diet.  So, without a doubt, beverage consumption is the first place to look for an easy place to cut back on unneeded extra sugar.

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