Friday, October 29, 2010


We have always said that the fast food culture is mainly to blame for the increase risk of obesity, diabetes and metabolic syndrome in the younger generation. The combination of cheese burgers, ( quarter pound ) and sodas is a killer ( silent killer ). Well it is not silent anymore.
The Nov issue of Diabetes Care carried a piece of work ny the researchers in the Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, led by Dr Vasanti Malik and Dr Frank Hu. They did a meta-analysis on the relationship between sugary drinks and diabetes and the metabolic syndrome. They found that the consumption of 1-2 sugary drinks is associated with a 26% increase in the incidence of type 2 diabetes and a 20% increase in the incidence of the metabolic syndrome ( the more cardiac deadly form of type 2 Diabetes. This risk is proportional to the amount of sugary drinks that you take. To put it in perspective. Smoking 1 pack of cigarette daily, is associated with a 30-40 % increase in the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. So that drinking 2-3 sodas a day could carry the same risk as smoking a pack of cigarettes. I use to tell my obese patient who consume coca cola, to just spill some on the table and run their finger through it, and feel the sugary stickiness. Some of the carbonated drinks contain as much as 6-8 table spoonful of sugar. No wonder the young ones love them.
Does consuming " diet sodas " make a difference. We do not know. The jury is still out on this one. Does artificial sweeteners help to lessen the risk. The data here seems conflicting. We need more data.
What then can be done? Action to be taken must be by the health authorities, if they are serious on reducing obesity and diabetes, both of which are serious health problems that consume alot of our healthcare expenditure.
Well, we have proposed before for the ministry of health to carry out mandatory food labelling, detailing how much calories there is in each drink or food substance, so that the public knows what they are ingesting. Then we physicians can take a detailed diet history, to try and ascertain the amount of calories, our young ones are consuming. Removing sugar subsidy is a good idea. In fact, making sugars more expensive is a good idea. That should cut down usage. If all these soft steps fail, we could of course take the more drastic step to sell sugar and sodas by sugar / soda coupons. Certain people are not allowed to buy sodas, and you can only buy so much sugars per month. This is being tried in some states in the USA.
No one will like the last step. But can I say that " It is for your own good ", now that we have evidence.

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