Deceptive marketing sweet talks parents

  ‘99% fruit and veg’. It has to be healthy, doesn’t it? Not necessarily.   More and more processed products are coming on to supermarket shelves developed specifically for children. Most are designed and marketed

A Note on Taxing Sugary Drinks in the UAE

0000-0002-8715-2896 Sugary carbonated drinks, energy drinks, and other similar products are fueling the obesity and diabetes epidemic. With the World Health Organization estimating that more than 1.9 billion adults (39%) are overweight, and 650 million

The secret, hidden pricetag on your cola bottle

0000-0002-8715-28960000-0002-1767-4576 The line at the convenience store is three people deep. Standing in front of me is a 40-something man with a bottle of cola and a newspaper. In front of him, a mother paying

Food fights: the new dietary guidelines, fats, salt, sugar, edible GMOs

If you read anything at all about the US Department of Agriculture’s 2015 dietary guidelines, which have finally been issued now that it is 2016, it was probably a diatribe arguing that the government was

A century of Einstein’s general #relativity, life on a Saturn moon, sugar industry influences dental research

Everything’s relative Einstein’s paper on general relativity was published in 1915. The paper didn’t appear until December of that year, but there’s already been some celebratory centennial doings. Science published a special issue last week, and it looks as if … Continue reading »

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Cholesterol and coffee ok, plus head transplants soon?

  Dietary committee not sweet on sugar So, what’s most noteworthy about the big fat report just issued by the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC)?  The declaration that dietary cholesterol is next to irrelevant? DGAC’s casual endorsement of coffee? … Continue reading »

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12 simple ways to prevent cancer

33% to 50% of all cancers are attributable to preventable lifestyle causes, such as smoking and tobacco use, poor diet, alcohol consumption, and obesity (1-3). Genetics play a tiny role, causing only 5-10% of all cancers. The remainder of cancer … Continue reading »

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A quest for a Healthy Tax Reform in Chile

This week on PLOS Translational Global Health, Sebastián Peña, MD, MSc, from the Department of Health, Municipality of Santiago discusses the Coordination of the Front for a Healthy Tax Reform.

Chile is undergoing the largest tax reform since the return …

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Overselling the microbiome award: MedicalDaily on Effects of Sugary Drink

There is a news article of possible interest in Medical Daily: Sugary Drinks Increase Bad Bacteria in Gut, Risk of Diabetes : Consumer News  This article reports on a paper in Obesity Reviews.  Alas the paper is not freely available. But the PhD thesis from one of the authors is.  The thesis is fascinating - I have read much of it now and skimmed other parts and it has the article as Chapter 2.  There are a few differences in the abstract - for example the Obesity Reviews paper does not start off with "The saying “you are what you eat” is no longer pure folklore but is scientifically substantiated by recognition of host-microbe interactions promoting digestion, absorption and metabolism." which is in the thesis chapter.  But my guess is the published article is very similar to the thesis chapter.

The news article really goes overboard in hyping what appears to be little more than a correlation.  Among the issues I have:

  • Title:  Sugary Drinks Increase Bad Bacteria in Gut, Risk of Diabetes
    • Whew.  It is a doozy.  No evidence that the bacteria found are "bad" as far as I can tell.  No evidence that sugary drinks specifically cause the increase.  The paper is a review paper outlining a lot of prior work and some theories hypothesizing connections between fructose and sweeteners and the microbiome and obesity.  But I don't see any evidence of specific increases in bad bacteria in the gut.
  • Byline: Sugary drinks help bad microbes grow in the human gut. This increase leads to many health complications like obesity and metabolic syndrome, raising risk of diseases associated with metabolic syndrome like diabetes.
    • Wow.  Even worse than the title.  Sugary drinks help the bad microbes grow.  And this leads to many health complications.  No evidence is presented for this.

In this case it is certainly much better to go to the source than to read the news story since the source (the PhD thesis and presumably the review paper) is quite thorough and interesting.  It has some fascinating ideas about sugar and sugar substitutes and their potential effects.

Mind you, I think microbes play a role in obesity too.  But the simple "sugary drinks CAUSE growth of bad bacteria which CAUSES health problems" well, if only it were so.  So for their overselling the effects of sugar and the microbiome without evidence I am giving the Medical Daily a highly coveted "overselling the microbiome award".