Category Archives: beverages

New York City may be leading the way … new studies show stronger links between sugar-sweetened beverages and obesity

FoodFacts.com has learned that this has been a busy week for the sugar-sweetened beverage and obesity debate. Coming right off the heels of the New York City ban on the sale of large-sized sugary beverages at certain establishments, there were three new studies published this week that are suggesting that New York City has the right idea and may, in fact, be leading the way towards stronger regulations from the federal government.

We know that a third of American adults and about 17% of American kids are currently obese. It has been suggested that sugary beverages have contributed to the obesity problem as the rate of consumption of those drinks has risen at the same pace as the obesity problem since the late 70s. But these new studies which were published this past week in the New England Journal of Medicine directly explored the effects of sugar-sweetened drinks on weight.

The first two studies were random trials. One involved over 600 children split into groups. One group was given a sugar-sweetened beverage to drink and the other a sugar-free version of the same drink. They were followed for a year and a half. While both groups of children gained weight over the period, the group consuming the sugar-sweetened beverage gained over two pounds more over the same period of time.

The other involved tracking over 200 overweight or obese adolescents whose diets regularly included sugary beverages. One group was given only diet beverages and water over a full year period. This group had the beverages delivered directly to their homes for tracking purposes. The other group continued to drink the sugary beverages they had always consumed without any change to their habits.

By the end of the study period, the group drinking the sugar-sweetened beverages had appreciably higher BMIs than the group given the diet beverages and water.

The final study focused on over 30,000 men and women of European ancestry over a course of time. Among those involved in the study who were genetically predisposed to obesity, higher consumption levels of sugar-sweetened drinks were linked to higher BMI.

The American Beverage Association released a statement regarding the studies, “Obesity is a serious and complex public health issue facing our nation and the rest of the world, and we all must work together to solve it. We know, and science supports, that obesity is not uniquely caused by any single food or beverage. Thus, studies and opinion pieces that focus solely on sugar-sweetened beverages, or any other single source of calories, do nothing meaningful to help address this serious issue.”

Health and medical groups are now appealing to the U.S. Surgeon General to publish a report on sugary beverages and obesity. The report they are seeking is based on the idea that sugar-sweetened beverages need the same treatment from the federal government as cigarette smoking and its relationship to cancer.

Perhaps, despite the tremendous concern among New Yorkers regarding the ban on large-sized sugary beverages, the city’s mayor is actually on the cutting edge of the fight against obesity. FoodFacts.com is looking forward to following this issue and bringing our community breaking information regarding other bans that may ensue from the results of these new studies – and possibly even some action from the Surgeon General’s office as well.

We invite you to read more: http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2012/09/sugary-drinks-get-the-one-two-three-punch-from-obesity-research/#.UGIrEtWdHIV
http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2012/07/health-groups-call-on-surgeon-general-for-report-on-soda/#.UGIrJ9WdHIW

New York’s proposed ban on super-sized sugary beverages …the right thing to do or government interference? Thoughts from our community, please

Food Facts wants our community to weigh in on this very controversial piece of news. Last month, Michael Bloomberg, New York City’s mayor proposed a ban on the sale of large sized sodas and other sugary drinks. The ban would affect restaurant establishments, movie theaters and street food sellers. Mayor Bloomberg is proposing this ban in order to curb the rising problem of obesity in New York City.

The ban would apply to drinks that are larger than 16 fluid ounces and range from sodas to energy drinks to sweetened iced teas which would be prohibited from sale in delis, fast-food outlets, sporting venues and even hot-dog and sandwich carts which are common on most New York City street corners. If the proposal is approved, it could go into effect in March of 2013. In New York City, more than half of adults are obese or overweight. And about one-third of New Yorkers drink more than one sugary drink per day. This information comes from the New York City health commissioner. The proposed ban would not apply to drinks with fewer than 30 calories per 8-ounce serving, so unsweetened iced teas, diet sodas and flavored or vitamin waters with no calories would not be affected.

According to the mayor, the only thing the ban actually would do is make it less convenient to consume more than 16 ounces of a chosen sugary beverage. After all, a consumer would be free to buy a second one. Because the city does have jurisdiction over local eating establishments they are confident they have the authority to restrict the sales of these beverages.

Since the proposal, other mayors around the country are considering similar actions. Many in the health and nutrition community are supportive of the measure. Many in the New York City community and the government are not.

Here, in our Food Facts community, many are aware of the unhealthy and possibly downright harmful ingredients in soda. But, we’re also pretty aware that those statements don’t just involve sugary sodas and pretty much extend to diet versions, as well. You can check out two examples right here:

http://www.foodfacts.com/ci/nutritionfacts/Diet-Soda/Coke-Cola-Diet-Coke-Soda-20-oz/778

http://www.foodfacts.com/ci/nutritionfacts/Cola/Coca-Cola-20-fl-oz/44984

We’d like our Food Facts friends to weigh in on this issue. Let us know:

1) Is the ban, and others like it that will undoubtedly follow, an infringement on our basic rights? If the New York City government can ban large sized sugary beverages, what other nutrition-based decisions can they go on to force on adult residents?

2) Is the ban a viable way to attempt to control a growing obesity problem in New York and other cities like it?

3) Does the ban actually not go far enough? If we know that the ingredients in soda are actually harmful to our health and that’s true for both diet and sugar-laden beverages, why aren’t governments trying to control the intake of all kinds of drinks? Aspartame is just as controversial as high-fructose corn syrup and phosphoric acid and potassium benzoate certainly don’t qualify as additives we don’t need to worry about.

It’s a fascinating conversation and one that can be looked at from many points of view. As a member of the Food Facts community, we’d like to hear your stance and reasoning. As educated consumers, your opinions are valuable, not only to us, but to all communities and cities considering ways and means to curtail the growing problems of obesity and poor nutrition becoming more and more prevalent in our country every day.

Ingredients that make Diet Cola a bad choice…

FoodFacts.com understands that informed food choices are the best food choices. So we wanted to make sure you’re well acquainted with four disturbing ingredients in Diet Colas that could help you to make more educated beverage selections.

Potassium Benzoate
Potassium Benzoate is used as a preservative in foods. It prevents bacteria and fungi from contaminating food, beverages, cosmetics, dental care products, and pharmaceuticals, Fruit juice, pickles, and soft drinks can be preserved with potassium benzoate. Most countries approve the use of potassium benzoate, but the European Union suggests children not consume products preserved with it.

Phosphoric acid
Phosphoric acid is a corrosive acid that can form three different classes of salts, namely primary phosphates, dibasic phosphates and tribasic phosphates. Phosphoric acid is soluble in water. It is incompatible with strong caustics and it is corrosive to ferrous metals and alloys. It readily reacts with metals to form flammable hydrogen gas.
It is used as an anti-oxidant in food, as a flavor additive for sharp taste in food (jellies, preserves) and soft drinks, as a tang (Food Additive 338) and for the manufacture of yeasts and gelatin. Phosphoric acid has been shown to decrease bone density and erode tooth enamel.

Caramel Coloring
There are many different types of caramel coloring, each engineered to serve a particular purpose in food chemistry. The caramel coloring used in soft drinks adds ammonia and sulfites to the production of the beverage. In addition to possible dangers of these unwanted ingredients, caramel coloring can also be derived from food products that are common allergens and should be avoided by people with allergies.

Aspartame
One of the most common artificial sweeteners is aspartame. It is 200 times sweeter than table sugar and lower in calories. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends the acceptable daily intake of 50 mg/kg of body weight/day. The European Food Safety Authority recommends only 40 mg/kg. There is much controversy on whether aspartame causes cancer. Expert agencies in the United States declare aspartame as safe to consume. A few studies have given rats aspartame with leukemia and lymphomas occurring in rats. However, many studies in the lab and by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) examined the effects of aspartame and saw no signs of aspartame as a carcinogen, or causing cancer. Health problems can still occur with the consumption of aspartame.

When you reach for a beverage, there’s more to consider than calories and taste and FoodFacts.com wants you to be as informed as possible when making decisions about different products.

Misleading Beverage Labels

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Foodfacts.com came across an article this morning which verifies that nutrition labels are often very misleading and boast unrealistic claims, such as “improving brain function.” Many of our followers already know that nutrition labels can’t be trusted 100 percent, however, this can be eye-opening for the few still trying to figure things out.

How well do you really know what you’re drinking?

Savvy shoppers know not to take product labels at face value. Still, it’s been a rough couple of weeks for consumers trying to keep the facts straight about what’s in what they drink.
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First it was the news about how not-so-one-hundred-percent 100% orange juice is. For those who may be unaware of the controversy, here’s what you need to know: During processing, things like orange aroma, oil, and pulp can get separated from the actual juice. Specifically, the process of removing the oxygen from the juice (which is done to keep it from spoiling without the use of preservatives) strips the juice of a lot of its natural flavors. And so to make up for the loss, those natural components — in the form of “flavor packs” — get added back in after processing. Not surprisingly, the backlash among the OJ-drinking set was fast and furious.

Now, hot on the heels of this revealing information, comes word that some of the popular brands of coconut water fail to deliver the “promised” amount of sodium — an electrolyte key to the drink’s appeal as a sports and energy drink. A report from ConsumerLab.com revealed that only one out of the three tested beverages offered an amount of electrolytes comparable to other sports drinks like Gatorade. Even though some may not outright call themselves sports drinks on the label (O.N.E. Coconut Water has), that’s certainly how they’re marketed (not to mention some even boast athlete endorsements). As ConsumerLab president Dr. Tom Cooperman told the Huffington Post, “People should be aware that the labels are not accurate on some of the products, and they shouldn’t count on coconut water for serious rehydration.”
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Thing is, when it comes to finding out news like this, are you really even surprised? Beverage labels, and labels in general, are a product’s face to the world — that they’re used as a canvas to improve the image of their product and make it more appealing to consumers is easy to understand. Of course, some cases are more egregious than others. For instance, how Snapple’s teas were labeled as “all natural” despite listing citric acid as an additive. Or worse, the example of Nestle’s Juicy Juice Brain Development Fruit Juice claiming that it “Helps Support Brain Development.” Apparently, such claims, called structure/function claims, require no FDA pre-certification.

(Huffington Post)