News / Health

Excess Sugar Linked With Heart Disease Death

FILE - Sugar-sweetened drinks in a store's refrigerator, Feb. 20, 2013
FILE - Sugar-sweetened drinks in a store's refrigerator, Feb. 20, 2013
A new study links consumption of more sugary foods with a higher risk of death from heart disease.

The assessment is the latest addition to a growing body of evidence that “too much sugar does not just make us fat, it can also make us sick,” according to health policy professor Laura Schmidt at the University of California, San Francisco.

Schmidt wrote a commentary accompanying the new study in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

The study focuses on sugar added to foods as opposed to those occurring naturally in fruits and vegetables.

Sugary drinks

Those who ate the most added sugar - making up more than one-fifth of their daily calories - were twice as likely to die from heart disease as those who ate a healthy diet with less than 10 percent added sugar.

Soda, energy drinks and other sugar-sweetened beverages were the biggest sources.

One can of soda contains about 140 calories, or about 7 percent of an average, 2,000-calorie diet.

The researchers used data from a large, ongoing national study on all kinds of health issues.  Thousands of people across the country answer questions about their diet and other health behaviors and get a physical.  The researchers also check to see if participants show up in national death records.

While other studies have looked at the link between added sugar and obesity, diabetes, heart disease and more, “this paper is the first to look at death from heart disease,” said nutrition professor Rachel Johnson at the University of Vermont, “so, sort of the ultimate end point.”

Johnson heads the nutrition committee for the American Heart Association but was not involved with this research.

Average consumption, elevated risk

“Most of us consume much more [added sugar] than healthy diets recommend,” said study co-author Quanhe Yang, an epidemiologist at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The study found the average American consumed about 15 percent of the day’s calories as added sugar.

“Compared with people in the lowest consumption group, you have roughly a 30 percent increased risk of dying from cardiovascular disease,” Yang said.

Add one can of soda a day, however, and the risk goes way up.

“If you just [drank] one can of sugar sweetened beverage, you may put yourself into another category, which is doubling your risk of cardiovascular mortality,” he added.

Policy implications

New York City is trying to limit the size of sodas, but is fighting a legal challenge.  Mexico has recently imposed a tax on soda and other sugary foods.  

Johnson said state and local governments in the United States also are considering taxes as a way to discourage consumption.

“I think we’re going to continue to see a lot of policy initiatives around how do we make the healthy choice the easy choice for people,” she added.

Many of these initiatives face opposition from those who see them as restricting individual freedom.

You May Like

Video British Fighters On Frontline of ISIS Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Multimedia Hit Song Delivers Ebola Message in Liberia

'Ebola in Town' has danceable beat, while also delivering serious message about avoiding infection More

Video New Technology Gives Surgeons Unprecedented Views of Patients’ Bodies

Technology offers real-time, interactive, medical visualization and is multi-dimensional More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid