This is how you make the "healthy cola" (@mandyvjones)
All too often we hear about new research finding that fizzy drinks are unhealthy, and scientists are now getting a clearer picture of the harm it causes.
A review of recent nutrition research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition adds further evidence that drinking sugary drinks directly leads to a higher BMI in both children and adults.
A can of sugary drinks has more than 140 calories and over eight teaspoons of sugar, the recommended limit for added sugar for an entire day (!).
The current findings may influence changes in the US Dietary Guidelines
Being overweight or obese increases a person's risk for a number of health problems, including diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers.
One of the reasons for these negative health outcomes is the composition of added sugar.
In these drinks, sugar is usually made from various types of liquid sugars such as high fructose corn syrup.
This sugar ball increases blood glucose levels, which triggers a glycemic response that over time can cause insulin resistance and diabetes.
The fructose plus sugar affects the liver and increases a person's risk of fatty liver and metabolic diseases.
Fructose also increases uric acid levels, which is another driver towards insulin resistance and other diseases.
Increases in insulin can, in turn, affect appetite and encourage overeating which leads to excess insulin in the blood.
Just a small cup filled with 8 teaspoons of sugar.
GIF of a carbonated drink (Photo: Giphy)
Every can affects weight gain
The researchers from the University of Toronto reviewed 85 studies from the last decade that examined sugary drinks and weight gain in adults and children.
Cohort studies, which track people's health outcomes over long periods of time, show that each daily increase in sugary drinks was associated with an increase of almost one pound in body weight among adults.
Children had a BMI 0.07 units higher.
As children and adults drank more sugary drinks, weight gain increased, showing even stronger evidence of a cause-and-effect relationship.
In addition, adults who drank a can a day were more likely to be half a pound heavier after a year.
After a decade, it can be two kilograms.
Children showed a 0.03 unit higher BMI for each additional sugary drink per day at one year.
"Although these results may seem modest, weight gain is a gradual process, with adults gaining an average of one kilogram per year," says Malik in a press release.
"Therefore, limiting intake can be an effective way to prevent age-related weight gain."
Sugary drinks can be addictive
While more research is needed, some studies show that limiting sugary drinks is difficult because they activate the dopaminergic reward system in the brain.
It encourages addictive behavior to continue the unhealthy habit.
Although in 2016, almost two billion adults were overweight and 650 million met the criteria for obesity, some of it due to sugary drinks, Malik remains optimistic that the world can reduce the number of sugary drinks they drink by imposing sugar taxes, just like what was and is disappearing here in Israel.
There are currently 85 countries with a tax on sugary drinks.
"All these efforts will suppress consumption, but it is important to remember that while this is happening, people need access to clean and safe drinking water as an alternative," advises Malik.
Nutrition and diet