Sugar Loses Some Sweetness After Study Links It to Death

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A new study is taking the fizz out of sodas and the sweetness away from sugar-laden treats. The study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, details the observable association between high sugar consumption and the risk of death from cardiovascular disease. An invited commentary on the study by Laura A. Schmidt states that sugar is more dangerous than the previous “empty calorie” designation suggests and has larger implications than just increasing the risk of obesity. “Too much sugar does not just make us fat; it can also make us sick,” Schmidt says.

For years, a link has existed between added sugars and the risk factors of cardiovascular disease, but the researchers behind a study published Monday wanted to see if this held true for death as a result of heart diseases, as well. To do this, eating habits and an assessment of health was analyzed. This data came from three rounds of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The survey is a multistage polling of people in the U.S., and it was periodically conducted prior to 1994, becoming continuous in 1999. Included in the data are self-reported 24-hour dietary recalls and the results of physical examinations. To establish a food’s sugar estimate, nutritional information from databases was used.

Using this system, the researchers discovered that the mean percentage of added sugar consumption between 2005 and 2010 was 14.9 percent. This is lower than data from 1988-1994 (when the mean was 15.7 percent) and nearly 2 percentage points below the mean from 1999 to 2004 (16.8 percent). Even though the mean dropped, 71.4 percent of adults still consumed more than 10 percent of their calories through added sugars, and added sugars comprise at least quarter of the caloric intake for 9.9 percent of adults.

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