UC Davis Research Bolsters Sugary Beverage Concerns

Big Sugary Drink Ban

In the coming months the city will be looking more closely at a program that could direct local restaurants to change the default beverage served with kids’ meals to healthier alternatives, moving away from surgery beverages.

First 5 Yolo is currently working with the City of Davis to adopt an ordinance that would require restaurants that offer kids’ meals to include only milk or water as the default beverage. According to First 5, there are about 20 restaurants in Davis that have kids’ meals that include soda as one of the beverage options.

Yesterday, UC Davis released a study that found that “[b]everag  es sweetened with low, medium and high amounts of high-fructose corn syrup significantly increase risk factors for cardiovascular disease, even when consumed for just two weeks by young, healthy men and women.”

The study is reportedly the first that demonstrates there is a direct and dose-dependent relationship between the amount of added sugar consumed in sweetened beverages and increases in specific risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

The data reinforce evidence from an earlier epidemiological study showing that the risk of death from cardiovascular disease – the leading cause of death in the United States and around the world — increases as the amount of added sugar consumed increases.

“These findings clearly indicate that humans are acutely sensitive to the harmful effects of excess dietary sugar over a broad range of consumption levels,” said Kimber Stanhope, the study’s lead author and a research scientist in the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.

Professor Stanhope noted that the study findings underscore the need to extend the research using carefully controlled dietary intervention studies, aimed at determining what would be prudent levels for added sugar consumption.

In a city staff report from last fall, they write that California and the nation are experiencing a childhood obesity epidemic. “In Davis, one-quarter of all children in grades 5, 7 and 9 are overweight or obese. In 2012, more than half of all Davis 5th, 7th, and 9th graders failed to meet the CA Fitness Standards,” staff reports.

Staff notes, “Sugary beverages play a central and unique role in the obesity epidemic. Studies have found a significant link between sugary drink consumption and weight gain in children. Soda and sugary beverages are the single largest source of calories in children’s diets, and provide nearly half of kids’ added sugar intake.

“Cities are enacting policies to increase access to healthy beverages for children, such as adopting standards for beverages provided in parks, recreational facilities, and city-sponsored programs,” staff writes. “Restaurants serve as another important venue within cities where changing local policies on healthy beverages could contribute to the fight against childhood obesity.”

Staff continues, “Cities can promote good health for their youngest residents and support parents in purchasing healthy beverages for their children by adopting a policy that requires restaurants to offer water or low-fat milk as part of any kids’ meal unless a customer specifically requests an alternative beverage. First 5 Yolo has been working to explore whether the City of Davis could adopt such a policy.”

As we noted last fall and staff noted above, the First 5 reports that “sugary drinks play a central and unique role in the obesity epidemic.” They found that “soda and sugary drinks are the single largest source of calories in children’s diets and provide nearly half of kids’ sugar intake.”

Forty-one percent of children aged two to 11, and 62 percent of those aged 12 to 17 drink at least one soda or other sugar-sweetened beverage every day.

The risk of obesity increases by 60 percent with each additional daily serving of soda, which contains 16 teaspoons of sugar for each 20-ounce serving, making sweetened beverages the largest single source of added sugar in American diet.

This sugary drink requirement only tells restaurants what their kids’ meals should offer as the “default” option, it does not dictate to anyone what the kids can or cannot have.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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24 Comments

  1. Barack Palin

    This sugary drink requirement only tells restaurants what their kids meals should offer as the “default” option, it does not dictate to anyone what the kids can or cannot have.

    This should read “This sugary drink requirement  dictates  to restaurants what their kids meals should offer as the “default” option, it does not dictate to anyone what the kids can or cannot have.

  2. Tia Will

    I want to add another factor to this discussion. The factor is habituation. This is not, to the best of my knowledge the same as we think of addiction to substances such as heroin, or methamphetamine or alcohol, but rather unpleasant effects that occur when we do not obtain the habituating substance.

    The example that many of us are familiar with is the caffeine withdrawal headache. Many, many of my patient’s who have been counseled to decrease their coffee intake due to conditions as varied as rapid or irregular heartbeats to urinary incontinence, find that they must do so gradually or suffer a variety of symptoms including daytime fatigue, lack of attention, mood alterations and caffeine withdrawal headaches.

    Sugar and artificially sweetened drinks also have habituating effects on both children and adults. While it is far easier to wean off these substances than it is to wean off the truly addictive substances, many will not recognize the harm that is being done to their bodies, especially if they become habituated as children. Far better and more cost effective to not develop these bad habits to begin with.

    I do not believe in laws artificially limiting the choices of the individual or the business person.  However, this very limited proposal does neither. It merely stops the most damaging choice from being set as the default. As a health care provider, I strongly urge support for this very simple step towards health promotion for all of our children.

    1. David Greenwald

      For example, a McDonald s Happy Meal, the default is milk, chocolate milk, or apple juice. You can ask for soda, but it’s not the default. What’s the big deal?

      1. hpierce

        “Chocolate milk”?  Are you kidding?  Look at the ‘sugars’ in that! [plus, lands are being deforested to grow cocoa!]  Milk (either kind!)?  Lactose is a sugar, and some people are lactose-intolerant!  [And, milk cows are inefficient uses of water and other resources!] Apple juice?  Heard of ‘fructose’? That’s a sugar!

        1. Tia Will

          My preference would have been to decouple drinks of any kind other than water as the default and have the parents order deliberately from a choice of options like any other menu item. These defaulted drinks are a means of training consumers to make unhealthy but lucrative choices in the future. This unfortunately appears to be the minority position.

        2. Davis Progressive

          most people are going to have drinks with their food, so i’m not sure decoupling helps.  getting kids away from soda, providing unsweetened juice, water, low fat milk is preferable.  getting people away from fast food is helpful too.

    2. hpierce

      Well, based on the concept of least “damaging choice”, sounds like the only ‘socially responsible’ choice is purified water.  People have milk allergies… some people can’t handle trace acids, esters, etc. in some fruit drinks (many of which have added sugar).  There are ‘salts’, traces of boron, etc., in regular water.  Looks to me, if we go to telling businesses what they offer for a “default” drink, it needs to be water.

      But of, course, there should be no default drink… gotta’ conserve that water…

    3. zaqzaq

      As a doctor do you have an opinion as to whether lowfat or whole milk is healthier for children.  My understanding is the lowfat milk has more sugar and that whole milk has more vitamin D because vitamin D is located in the fat.  Based on this understanding we have transitioned from lowfat to whole milk for our children.  It concerns me that the staff is recommending lowfat milk.

      1. Tia Will

        As a doctor, my recommended beverage of choice for children over two years old is water. Whether there is an advantage for children of low fat vs whole milk would best be answered by a pediatrician or a nutritionist.

  3. David Greenwald

    Mashable points to a study that argues its sugar and calories:

    The food industry has also shifted the conversation to simple calorie counting, the authors write. But it’s the source of calories that matters, the editorial says, arguing that sugar calories promote the storage of fat and make people more hungry, while calories that actually come from fat make a person feel full.

    The authors point to a study in the academic journal Nutrition that says the single most effective way to counter obesity is to restrict the intake of carbohydrates.

    The editorial also strongly criticises sugary drinks, saying the association between “junk food and sport, must end.” It calls on the British government to put a tax on sugary drinks and ban the advertising of junk food as well as saying gyms shouldn’t sell the beverages.

    source: http://mashable.com/2015/04/23/obesity-exercise-uk-study/

  4. SODA

    “Yesterday, UC Davis released a study that found that “[b]everag  es sweetened with low, medium and high amounts of high-fructose corn syrup significantly increase risk factors for cardiovascular disease, even when consumed for just two weeks by young, healthy men and women.”
    Link for the study?  As stated, how could one study  and correlate cardiovascular risk from a 2 weeks ingestion of soda?

  5. tribeUSA

    Does anyone remember the kids Sherlock Homes movie from the late 1980s, where Sherlock Holmes accidentally overdoses on opium and has hallucinations of tiny sugar gremlins, shaped like pastries and candies, that are cheerfully jumping on Sherlocks shoulders and face and trying to force themselves down his throat?

    We need to educate our children about the dangers of the sugar gremlins; which appear benign but will ruin your health!

  6. Tia Will

    tribeUSA

    We need to educate our children about the dangers of the sugar gremlins; which appear benign but will ruin your health!”

    Agreed. And their are many means to educate and reinforce good behaviors.  Individual and community example would be a great place to start.

    It is interesting to me that some posters here who opposed the fluoride initiative saying that we could achieve the same ends through community education and other local actions, are now saying that we should not be acting as a community in the attempts to “nudge” people away from the default position of administering what is effectively a metabolic and dental poison to children.  What this says to me is that they prioritize the right of a business person to supply a habituating substance automatically to the most vulnerable and suggestive of our population without the specific choice of the parent, over the right of the child not to have their health compromised before they have any reasonable chance of making an informed decision for themselves.

    1. Frankly

      Oh geeze… you have to do a lot of mental gymnastics to try to tie this logic together.

      – Don’t put drugs in the drinking water.

      -Don’t tell restaurants what drinks they can and cannot sell and what quanitity they can sell.

      – Educate people to make good life choices.

      – Allow them to suffer the consequences resulting from their choices.

      There is nothing inconsistent with these principles just as there is nothing inconsistent with doctor’s overmedicating people and liberals demanding nanny government to eliminate more and more freedoms to save the ignorant and poorly deciding from suffering the consequences of their own behavior.

       

  7. Tia Will

    Don’t tell restaurants what drinks they can and cannot sell and what quanitity they can sell.”

    Except that the proposition in question does neither. You left that part out.

    1. Frankly

      True – and you did point out that you don’t support limiting choice… except when that choice is the default of having pure drinking water without any drugs added.

      Your consistency is that you are supporting or opposing policy that takes away choice in the name of individual health.  I think that is appropriate and expected for a liberal MD.

      My consistency is that I am supporting or opposing policy that takes away choice in the name of individual freedom and accountability.   I think that is appropriate and expected for a conservative business person.

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