The cover story on this week’s issue of TIME Magazine is making waves – and driving sales at the nation’s checkout counters. The article traces the recent history of nutrition science, specifically the 20th-century vogue for health messages about cutting consumption of saturated fat. It does a nice job laying out how those messages were seized upon by food marketers to create today’s grocery aisles thronged with “fat-free” and “low-fat” processed foods.
But ironically, in its effort to rehabilitate the reputation of saturated fat by showing how that food component has been isolated and demonized, the article effectively demonizes carbohydrates, blaming them for the same health conditions once widely linked with saturated fat.
It’s only the latest article in the popular press to do this. But while it makes a compelling read, singling out any one food or food component for blame oversimplifies a field of study marked by complexity and nuance.
As a cancer research and education organization, we should note that AICR’s expert reports and their updates have found no strong links between dietary fat itself –whether saturated or unsaturated – and cancer risk. Instead, it’s the fat we carry on our bodies that is strongly linked to increased risk for eight different cancers. Continue reading
People are talking a lot about sugar these days, especially one kind called high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) – a sugar that seems to be added to just about all sweets in a box or package. HFCS usually contains more of one type of sugar – fructose – than table sugar or corn syrup.
We know that too many sugary drinks – regardless of the type of sugar – can lead to obesity, which is a cause of eight different cancers. But some researchers believe that fructose is more harmful than other sugars, leading to a higher risk for type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Others disagree, leaving the research to be inconclusive.
As the research continues on fructose, a new study published in the journal Nutrition, says that many sugary beverages Americans are drinking — whether it’s HFCS soda or apple juice — actually contain similar amounts of fructose. Fructose is one of the two sugars that make up sucrose or table sugar; it is also a natural sugar found in fruit and fruit juice.
For their study, the researchers analyzed the sugar concentrations of the most popular sodas, 100% fruit juices, and juice drinks, including sports drinks. The researchers found that fructose levels among some HFCS drinks are often higher than a commonly used database researchers use. Continue reading
In the battle of beverages, diet drinks made the headlines this week, beating out water as a weight loss aid according to a new study. Understanding how our food and beverages may affect weight gain or loss is important to cancer prevention, because being overweight or obese is a major risk factor for eight cancers, including colorectal and post-menopausal breast.
The study adds to the limited, but growing body of human research on diet beverages. The role of diet beverages in weight control is controversial, but the role of sugary beverages is not. AICR recommends avoiding sugary sodas and drinks because they are strongly linked to weight gain, overweight and obesity.
The study, published online in Obesity, found that of the approximately 300 overweight participants, those consuming the diet beverages lost more weight over 12 weeks than the group consuming water. The difference was small, but significant, with the diet drink group losing an average of 13 lbs and the water group, 9 lbs.
For the trial, one-half of the participants were instructed to drink at least 24 ounces of water daily and not to consume any diet beverages. The other half were told to drink at least 24 ounces of diet drinks, but they could also drink water. Continue reading