Check out this update from the Associated Press about sugary drinks and the link to obesity. Thanks to studies presented Friday at an obesity conference in San Antonio and published online by the New England Journal of Medicine, we know what we were afraid to admit:
A huge, decades-long study involving more than 33,000 Americans has yielded the first clear proof that drinking sugary beverages interacts with genes that affect weight, amplifying a person’s risk of obesity beyond what it would be from heredity alone.
This means that such drinks are especially harmful to people with genes that predispose them to weight gain. And most of us have at least some of these genes.
In addition, two other major experiments have found that giving children and teens calorie-free alternatives to the sugary drinks they usually consume leads to less weight gain.
Collectively, the results strongly suggest that sugary drinks cause people to pack on the pounds, independent of other unhealthy behavior such as overeating and getting too little exercise, scientists say.
Then you’ve got the American Council on Science and Health saying the New York City ban won’t make much of a difference:
Just over a week ago, the New York City Board of Health approved Mayor Bloomberg’s proposal to ban the sale of some sugar-sweetened beverages that exceed 16 ounces in certain restaurants and concessions. The decision was met with dismay from ACSH and many other New Yorkers, since it’s dubious that such a proscription will affect obesity rates in any positive way.
The council explains the studies included in the New England Journal of Medicine in detail and say:
But despite what the study authors may claim, what remains clear is that obesity is a complex problem that cannot be solved simply by targeting a specific food group or beverage choice. “Solely addressing sugary beverages will not make a significant impact on population-wide obesity statistics,” says ACSH’s Dr. Gilbert Ross. “And rules limiting the sizes of certain drinks will not do anything to prevent people from continuing to consume the same amounts they were beforehand.”
The debate continues. What do you think?