Currently viewing the tag: "calories"


Pile of Refined SugarExtra, extra…! Sugar found to be deadly to people with heart disease. So says a recent study published in the latest JAMA Internal Medicine (published online February 03, 2014). Not only are most Americans consuming more than the safest amounts of daily sugar, but 1 in 10 are taking in twenty five percent or more of their daily calories from the sweet stuff. And the results showed that those people taking in the most sugar have an increased risk of dying from cardiovascular disease (CVD).

The study, a prospective cohort of a nationally representative sample of US adults taken from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) of 1998-2010, looked at the diets of more than 30,000 American adults aged 44 on average, and did fifteen years of follow up to analyze death risk as it related to sugar and CVD. The results, according to Lead author Quanhe Yang of the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, were “sobering”.

Study participants were divided into five groups according to sugar intake, from less than 10 percent of daily calories—the safest amount—to more than 25%. As sugar intake increased so did the risk of dying from heart disease, and it did so significantly.

Cocaine sugar drugs heart diseasePeople getting more than 25% of their daily calories from sugar had a nearly three times increased risk of dying from CVD when compared to people getting the least amount.

For those who got more than 15%—equivalent to about two cans of soda out of 2,000 calories daily—the risk was almost 20% higher than the safest level. If you don’t know, a 12-ounce can of non-diet soda contains about 9 teaspoons of sugar or about 140 calories. US government dietary guidelines issued in 2010 say “empty” calories including those from added sugars should account for no more than 15% of total daily calories. Despite this, there is no universal consensus on how much sugar is too much.

Researchers focused on sugar added to processed foods or drinks, or sprinkled in coffee or cereal. Many “regular” foods have added sugar, including many brands of packaged bread, tomato sauce and salad dressing. Naturally occurring sugar, in fruit and some other foods, wasn’t counted.

“Too much sugar does not just make us fat; it can also make us sick,” said Laura Schmidt, a health policy specialist at the University of California, San Francisco. And says Dr. Jonathan Purnell, a professor at Oregon Health & Science University’s Knight Cardiovascular Institute, that while the research doesn’t prove “sugar can cause you to die of a heart attack”, it adds to a growing body of circumstantial evidence suggesting that limiting sugar intake can lead to healthier, longer lives.

sugar damageYes I will step out on limb here and say that sugar might be one of if not the major factor in the high incidence of CVD in western society. Heart disease has risen right along with the prevalence of adding sugar to everything from snacks to “staples,” and my observation in doctor school was that, along with tobacco and alcohol, sugar led to the greatest damage to human physiology. Not just heart disease, but diabetes, vascular disease, liver damage, ocular disease, kidney disease…and the list goes on and on.

We have been chasing one dead end after another when it comes to causes of heart disease, including the current favorite: elevated cholesterol. But despite a few modest improvements, heart disease remains the number one killer in the US. Well can we please start looking a little harder at sugar now, then? Duh—even with regard to the obesity epidemic, sugar is not taken as seriously as some other far reaching theories like genetics and hormones. C’mon

drugs cocaine

Drugs cocaine and sugar equally hard to kick

Listen, many of us that think about health regularly have suspected sugar as major detriment to health for a long time. I can tell you from my own experience that significantly reducing sugar from my diet (I’m not 100%)—which I did almost five years ago—was harder than quitting smoking or drugs/alcohol. The stuff is mega-addictive! Processed foods with massive amounts of hidden sugar are some of the most popular dishes in America, so it isn’t too hard to see why most are getting unhealthy amounts of sugar in their daily intake (the average American consumes forty four pounds of sugar per year).

And don’t think cold hard cash isn’t a factor in our delayed approach to looking at sugar, either. The sugar cartel is huge and powerful. You don’t get embedded into the world food supply at random. So really no surprises there…but really you don’t have to be another casualty. If you didn’t know before, you do now—sugar is a killer. Give it up today (or mostly, like me), and I can almost guarantee that by tomorrow (okay maybe over the next few months) you won’t miss it at all.


The title of this post may seem obvious, but an interesting study has just been published showing that people will choose healthy foods over junk food if the price of the junk is higher. This study shows strong evidence that a junk food tax might help improve overall health, while lowering the obesity epidemic in this country.

The research conducted at the University of Buffalo in New York gave 42 mothers just over $22.00 to spend at a “supermarket” set up in a room at the university and stocked with images of everything from bananas to whole wheat bread to cola drinks and cookies. They were told to imagine that they had no food in the house and they were going to do the shopping for the week to feed the family. They were given the choices of 30 healthy foods, which included healthy beverages, and 30 junk foods, including sodas and other sugary drinks.

The women went shopping five times, the first round having prices on par with what they currently are at local supermarkets. Two times the prices of healthy foods were lowered, and two times the prices of the junk foods were increased. The interesting results were that hiking the prices of junk foods, like what would occur from a so-called “sin tax,” was more effective in lowering overall calories purchased than lowering the prices of healthy foods. Hmmm…you don’t say.

Even more interesting is that lowering the price of healthy foods merely increased the overall calories the women purchased. Wow!

I love this study! First off, although I am a huge proponent of self-responsibility particularly as it relates to health, I do believe that taxing unhealthy behaviors is appropriate. As much as I believe in the live and let live philosophy, in today’s economic and health care environments, peoples’ poor health choices are being paid for by us all. So I think if you want to smoke, smoke, but you’ve got to pay more; want to live off Susie Qs, pay up; boozer for life, no problem, just pay your share. Now obviously, the only way this type of tax would mean anything is if the money would be used to offset health costs. I’ll leave that to policy makers.

But back to the study: Making healthy foods cheaper didn’t lead people to make better choices, they still went for more. In fact, when they saved on broccoli, yogurt, fish and eggs, they just took the savings and bought cookies and chips. Duh!!! So lower food prices obviously are not the answer, not from a health perspective anyway.

“It appears that mothers took the money they saved on subsidized fruits and vegetables and treated the family to less healthy alternatives, such as chips and soda pop,” the authors of the study said.

But raising the price of the crap actually led mothers to choose healthy foods–a sad statement on human psychology, but an awesome perspective on the power of economics. In the experiment, taxing junk foods by 10% resulted in the shoppers buying 14.4% less high-fat and sugary foods and drinks. That meant their week’s shopping contained 6.5% fewer calories, the study said.

Well what can I say? When it comes to making health choices surrounding food, Americans are severely addicted to junk, and in my estimation, sugar in particular. Only continuous education (what I’m trying to do here) is going to change that. But a sin tax is certainly a way to combat obesity, particularly childhood obesity which is rising rapidly. And it can also help subsidize health care costs. With a culture so dependent on sugary junk food, we’re going to need every penny we can get.

Copyright © 2013 Dr. Nick Campos - All Rights Reserved. Web Services by David Cosgrove Los Angeles Web Design