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

In China, Mixed Signals on Ebola Controls

How authorities are monitoring at-risk individuals remains unclear, including whether there are quarantines for Chinese health workers returning from West Africa More

Video Women Voters Anxious Ahead of US Elections

Analysts say if women are focused on national security, it could be bad news for Democrats More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Women Voters Anxious Ahead of US Electionsi
X
October 31, 2014 4:10 AM
Public opinion polls show American voters are deeply dissatisfied with their government and anxious about threats from abroad. This is especially true for a key voting group both Republicans and Democrats are trying hard to win over: women. Analysts say if women are focused on national security, it could be bad news for Democrats, with majority control of the Senate at stake. VOA’s Cindy Saine looks at the crucial role women voters will play in deciding the elections.
Video

Video Women Voters Anxious Ahead of US Elections

Public opinion polls show American voters are deeply dissatisfied with their government and anxious about threats from abroad. This is especially true for a key voting group both Republicans and Democrats are trying hard to win over: women. Analysts say if women are focused on national security, it could be bad news for Democrats, with majority control of the Senate at stake. VOA’s Cindy Saine looks at the crucial role women voters will play in deciding the elections.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid