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3 Reasons Why Temporal Forehead Thermometers Are Inaccurate

With so many different types of thermometers on the market, it is important to know a product’s accuracy before using one on your child. Forehead thermometers are a non-invasive system that use infrared technology, providing the easiest and quickest measurements. These reasons indicate why a high percentage of parents use it, but research shows that forehead thermometers have been found to be an inaccurate measurement of the core body temperature. HFR researched 3 reasons why these devices are inaccurate.

  • Extremely dependent on external variables

Most pediatric practices do not recommend the use of forehead thermometers on children due to the external variables that can affect its measurements. A study posted on PubMed.Gov explains this, saying that specifically radiant warmers can cause inaccuracy when using a forehead thermometer. Radiant warmers are used to help infants maintain a normal body temperature, and if a forehead thermometer gets affected by the radiant warmer, it becomes completely useless when measuring a child’s temperature. However, this is not the only factor that can affect the measurements of a forehead thermometer. The National Institute of Health research said that a forehead thermometer’s readings can become inaccurate if the child’s forehead is sweating or if the child is moving. These two variables seem very common when it comes to children. It is difficult to keep a child still, especially during a doctor’s visit, and sweat on the forehead is frequently associated with a fever.                       

  • Inconsistency

When comparing three types of thermometers, a study found that forehead thermometers would measure inconsistently, varying within a range of 3 degrees Celsius. The top critical review on Amazon for the popular Braun Forehead Thermometer claims that the reviewer “took 5 readings within a 30-minute timeframe” and found that the temperatures ranged from 99.1 to 102.1, while the rectal thermometer measured their baby’s actual temperature at 102.4 degrees. Inconsistent and inaccurate readings like these can be life-threatening to infants. Forehead thermometers have also received poor reviews from a study published on PubMed.Gov. The study consults private pediatric practices and measures the temperature of children from 1 month to 24 months of age using tympanic (ear), forehead, and rectal thermometers. The results from this study showed that tympanic and forehead thermometers recorded temperatures lower than the rectal thermometer, but when comparing the tympanic with the forehead thermometer, the forehead thermometer had a wider range of total error.      

  • Scores The Lowest Amongst Other Thermometers

In a test done with oral, axillary, tympanic, and forehead thermometers, it was shown that tympanic was the most accurate, while forehead thermometers did the worst. Overall, the less invasive the measurement, the less accurate it is. Understandably, forehead thermometers provide the easiest and fastest methods, but when measuring young infants, risking inaccurate temperatures can cause dangerous effects. Therefore, it is important to stick with tympanic thermometers due to their reliable accuracy.

A fever is your body’s way of fighting back, and it is actually a sign of healing. However, it can be different for children whose immune systems are not as strong. Different conditions can cause a fever, and according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, if your child’s temperature is more than 100.4 °F (38 °C) you should call your physician or take them to the hospital to avoid further damage. Fever in children younger than 3 months can be signs of an infection and, if ignored or untreated, it can lead to brain damage if it reaches 108 degrees. If you are unsure about the health of your child, contact your pediatrician.

New Breath Test detects Stomach Cancer

A quick and simple breath test can diagnose stomach cancer, study findings reveal.


Scientists from Israel and China found the test was 90% accurate at detecting and distinguishing cancers from other stomach complaints in 130 patients.


The British Journal of Cancer says the test could revolutionise and speed up the way this cancer is diagnosed.


About 7,000 UK people develop stomach cancer each year and most have an advanced stage of the disease.


Two-fifths of patients survive for at least a year, but only a fifth are still alive after five years, despite treatment.


Currently doctors diagnose stomach cancer by taking a biopsy of the stomach lining using a probe and a flexible camera passed via mouth and down the gullet.


The new test looks for chemical profiles in exhaled breath that are unique to patients with stomach cancer.


Cancer appears to give off a signature smell of volatile organic compounds that can be detected using the right technical medical kit – and perhaps even dogs.


The science behind the test itself is not new – many researchers have been working on the possibility of breath tests for a number of cancers, including lung.


But the work by Prof Hossam Haick, of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, suggests it is a good way to spot stomach cancer.

In the study, 37 of the patients had stomach cancer, 32 had stomach ulcers and 61 had other stomach complaints.


As well as accurately distinguishing between these conditions 90% of the time, the breath test could tell the difference between early and late-stage stomach cancers.


The team are now running a bigger study in more patients to validate their test.


Kate Law, director of clinical research at Cancer Research UK, said: “The results of this latest study are promising – although large scale trials will now be needed to confirm these findings.


“Only one in five people are able to have surgery as part of their treatment as most stomach cancers are diagnosed at stages that are too advanced for surgery. Any test that could help diagnose stomach cancers earlier would make a difference to patients’ long-term survival.”


As originally published on BBC News http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-21671455


10 MORE Great and Easy Health Tips

  • Eat more fruit and vegetables that have high water content such as tomatoes,watermelons, kiwi and grapes.These foods contain about 90 to 95% water, so you can eat a lot of these and they will fill you up without adding on the pounds.
  • Cut out the fried food and switch to baked. Fried foods are immersed in fat and oil which gets absorbed into the food itself and is retained even after it has been drained.
  • Try to set a meal pattern to help you to control what you eat and when you eat it. It is also better to have 5 small meals a day rather than just one or two huge meals. Having a small snack in the morning and afternoon stops you getting over hungry and then wolfing down an extra large portion at dinner time.
  • Is your energy lagging? Though it may be the last thing you feel like doing when you’re tired, exercise — even a brisk walk — can be more effective than a nap or cup of coffee at fighting fatigue.
  • To remove excess fat from soups, stews or sauces, drop in 3 or 4 ice cubes. The fat will congeal around them as they melt. You can then remove the fat and reheat if necessary to re-thicken.
  • Everyone knows that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but still go without it. Breakfast is what gets the metabolism going and keep it going throughout the day. After sleeping all night, your body is no longer full so the best thing for it is food. Retain your focus and energy with a healthy and nutritious meal.
  • What door? What stairs? Any door, any stairs. When you get to the grocery store, the hardware store, or wherever you are going, let everybody else compete for the front parking spaces, while you park farther away. If you have to go up a couple of stories in a building, take the stairs, instead of an escalator or elevator. Every step in a day makes a positive contribution to your health. Unless you are disabled, there is no good reason to park close or use a people-mover. Get used to the back of the lot and the stairwell, and you’ll find yourself a lot closer to the front of the pack in terms of fitness.
  • Vigorous work-outs – when you’re breathing hard and sweating – help your heart pump better, give you more energy and help you look and feel best. Start with a warm-up that stretches your muscles. Include 20 minutes of aerobic activity, such as running, jogging, or dancing. Follow-up with activities that help make you stronger such as push-ups or lifting weights. Then cool-down with more stretching and deep breathing.
  • Preparing for sleep at night begins during the daytime. Engage in some sort of aerobic exercise such as brisk walking in the afternoon or early evening. Daily exercise is one of the best ways to improve the quality of sleep because it helps you fall asleep faster and longer. People who exercise spend a greater amount of time in stage three and four sleep, the most restorative and repairing stages of sleep.
  • Crummy weather? Take a mall walk. Check your mall to see if they offer a mall-walking program or early morning hours for walkers. If it doesn’t, you can still get there first thing in the morning — hours before the teens get out of bed — do a few laps, and then treat yourself to a skim milk latte. Invite a friend along, and agree to do one quick lap for some harder exercise, and then one moderate lap for a little bit of window shopping — then repeat, one fast lap/one relaxed, on the upper level.

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Tips To Avoid Overeating

Almost everyone has time periods when they overeat, especially when they are stressed. We often turn to treats for comfort, and then wind up feeling guilty (on top of being stressed) about what we just ate. Here are Health Fitness Revolution’s healthier strategies to reduce your stress and overeating:

  • Talk about what’s stressing you out instead of losing yourself in the fridge or the pantry: Everyone feels better in action than when brooding. While you can’t completely rid your life of the causes of stress, you can take the time to ask yourself how you can make things better, and talking about it often helps. It can help you get in a proactive state to do something about your stress level. Is there some action you can take to minimize your stress? You can get better at controlling how you think, so practice choosing the positive.
  • Choose healthy foods alternatives: When you’re stressed out, you are producing higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which can make you crave sweets and salty foods. Instead of trying to fight it, select sweet or salty food that’s healthy for you. Make fruit smoothies instead of eating cookies and try snacking on some healthy nuts instead of chips.
  • Do one thing you love every day: Don’t let too many days go by without doing something you love. In fact, try to do at least one thing that you love daily. Catch up a friend, take a walk under the stars, take a bubble bath, get a full night’s sleep, sip your favorite kind of coffee.
  • Don’t buy foods you have a difficult time avoiding in your house: The easiest way to avoid temptation is to not have it around – and not buy it at the grocery store. Don’t create a will power challenge in your own home. Be kinder to yourself by making it easier for you to stick to healthier items. Make it easy to choose healthy by keep healthy snacks on hand so you can easily turn to healthy options first.
  • Once a week, have a cheat meal/indulgence: We believe in balance and enjoying life – choose one meal or snack where you eat what you want, and get back to healthier eating for your next meal. It’s called planned indulgence and it’s your permission slip to indulge and enjoy – a guilt-free zone you schedule – so you are in control. It makes staying on track the rest of the week easier.
  • Empower yourself with exercise: We preach this constantly, but exercise really is one of the best ways to elevate your mood and alleviate stress. Really sweat the stress out. Aim for those endorphins and watch what they do to reduce your stress, boost your mood and give you some mental clarity.
  • Take a time out: To breathe, compose yourself, and relax.  Whether it’s meditation or yoga or simply sitting in a comfy chair and clearing your mind, focus on your breathing and unplug from technology and the daily hustle and bustle. Zoning out in quiet will help you recharge and lower your stress levels.




What Your Blood Type Says About Your Health

Not only is knowing your blood type important in the case of an emergency, but recent research is showing that it can say a lot about the diseases you’re susceptible to and the way your body reacts to stress.  Here are a few things your blood type says about you:


  • Different Blood Types React to Stress Differently:  It is well known that type A people have more of the stress hormone cortisol in their bodies and produce more during stressful times.  However, research is now showing that people with Type O blood type have a “fight or flight” reaction to stress which results in the overproduction of adrenaline. This means that it is more difficult for Type O’s to clear the adrenaline from their systems, taking them longer to recover from stressful situations.
  • Your Blood Type Antigens are Everywhere in Your Body:  This includes your entire digestive tract, as well as your lungs and nasal passages. Because these blood type antigens are everywhere, they influence how your body reacts to the food you eat through several factors. For example: the lecins in certain foods bind to your blood type antigen and cause your blood to agglutinate (stick together), resulting in feelings of fatigue, headaches, digestive issues, skin problems and a host of other health issues.
  • The Type of Bacteria in your Gut is Related to Your Blood Type: certain bacteria are 50,000 more likely to turn up in people with one blood type over another.  This originated from our ancestors whose digestive tracts developed to accommodate one type of diet over another. Research done recently has shown that the microbial genomes of certain people developed to break down carbohydrates much more efficiently (blood type A). People lacking this ability (blood type O) tend to store carbs as fat.
  • Blood Type May Predict Disease Susceptibility:  Research has found that those with certain blood types may be at a higher risk for certain diseases!
    • Studieshave found:
      • People with blood type O: have a lower risk for heart disease, but a higher risk for developing stomach ulcers.
      • People who are blood type A: have higher risks of microbial infections, but Type A women experience a higher rate of fertility.
      • People with blood type AB and B have a much higher risk of developing pancreatic cancer.


Today’s adults ‘unhealthier than their parents were’

“Today’s adults are so unhealthy they are 15 years ‘older’ than their parents and grandparents at the same age,” reports The Daily Telegraph. This gloomy message is based on a study that found that despite a continuing trend of increasing life expectancy, overall, the adult population is less healthy than it used to be in the past.

Researchers drew these conclusions after comparing the prevalence of risk factors for stroke, heart disease and diabetes within different generations.

It found that more recently born generations had at a similar age a higher prevalence of obesity and high blood pressure than those born 10 years earlier. Diabetes was also more prevalent among younger men, at the same age.

The good news is that the prevalence of high cholesterol did not change – possibly thanks to the development of successful treatments, such as statins.

Researchers remain unclear why the number of deaths from heart disease is falling despite poorer health. Important factors could include a reduction in smoking, as well as improved treatments.

The message from this study is undeniable: it is never too soon to take up a healthy lifestyle, including a balanced diet and plenty of exercise.

Where did the story come from?

The study was carried out by researchers from the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, and University Medical Center Utrecht, both in the Netherlands. It was funded by the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport of the Netherlands and the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment.

The study was published in the peer-reviewed European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.

It was reported fairly in the media, although both the Telegraph’s and the Daily Mail’s claim that today’s adults are ‘older’ than previous generations is not a particularly sensible, useful or accurate comparison.

There is currently no direct linear association between age and health, and people in their seventies can be as healthy as those in their thirties.

What kind of research was this?

This was a cohort study that followed more than 6,000 adults, who were between the ages of 20 and 59 years at baseline, over a period of 16 years.

It aimed to find out if there were any ‘generational shifts’ in the prevalence of ‘metabolic risk factors’ that increase the chance of developing heart disease, stroke, diabetes and some other health problems.

They include:

  • being overweight or obese
  • high cholesterol and/or having low levels of ‘good’ HDL cholesterol
  • high blood pressure
  • high blood sugar, which can increase the risk of developing diabetes

The authors point out that the health of elderly people in the future is partly determined by their exposure to such risk factors over their lifetime. But little attention has been paid to whether or not there are differences in levels of risk factors between the younger and older adult generations.

What did the research involve?

The researchers used data from a cohort study that began in 1987-1991 and followed up participants after six, 11 and 16 years.

Participants were randomly selected from civil registries of Doetinchem, a small town in the Netherlands, and were aged 20 to 59 years. After the initial visit (wave one) they were invited back in three further ‘waves’ – six, 11 and 16 years later. This resulted in:

  • a total of 6,308 people in wave one
  • 6,070 in wave two
  • 4,898 in wave three
  • 4,517 in wave four

The researchers categorised people by ‘generations’ (10-year age groups) of 20-29 year olds, 30-39 year olds, 40-49 year olds and 50-59 year olds.

At each visit trained staff measured each participant for the metabolic risk factors mentioned above (with the exception of blood sugar levels). They also completed questionnaires on medical history, use of medication and lifestyle. Body weight and height were also measured and used to calculate body mass index (BMI).

Type 2 diabetes was self reported but usually supported by professional verification. Socioeconomic status was determined by highest level of completed education.

Researchers then analysed their results to find out if one generation had a different risk profile from one born 10 years earlier.

What were the basic results?

The results showed that the prevalence of overweight, obesity and high blood pressure increased with age in all generations, as to be expected. But in general, more recently born generations had, at a similar age, a higher prevalence of these risk factors than generations born 10 years earlier.

Unfavorable generation shifts’ were most pronounced for overweight or obesity, and were present in men between every generation. For example, 40% of men in their 30s at baseline were overweight. 11 years later (wave three), 52% of men in their 30s were overweight.

In women, these unfavorable changes in weight were only evident between the most recently born generations, in which the prevalence of obesity doubled in just 10 years.

Other findings from the study included:

  • Unfavorable generation shifts in high blood pressure between every consecutive generation (except for the two most recently born generations of men).
  • Unfavorable generation shifts in diabetes between three of the four generations of men, but not of women.
  • No generation shifts for high cholesterol. Favorable shifts in ‘good’ HDL cholesterol were only observed between the oldest two generations.

In general, the pattern of generation shifts did not differ according to socioeconomic status, as they all worsened over time. The proportion of people in poorer socioeconomic groups with risk factors was, however, greater than the proportion with risk factors in the higher groups.

How did the researchers interpret the results?

The authors say that overall, based on increases in the prevalence of unhealthy weight and high blood pressure at younger age, “the more recently born adult generations are doing worse than their predecessors”. Evidence to explain the changes is not clear, they add, but they note studies reporting an increase in physical inactivity.

In an accompanying press release, the lead author, Gerben Hulsegge, said that in terms of the findings on obesity: “The prevalence of obesity in our youngest generation of men and women at the mean age of 40 is similar to that of our oldest generation at the mean age of 55. This means that this younger generation is ’15 years ahead’ of the older generation and will be exposed to their obesity for a longer time.”

He also argued that while reduction in smoking and improved healthcare have led to greater life expectancy, the current trends in obesity mean that “the rate of increase in life expectancy may well slow down”.


This cohort study’s strength was its long follow-up period, with four measurements of risk factors taken over a period of 16 years. By following up people over time a cohort study such as this is able to track risk factors in the same people over extended periods. As long as people return for the follow-up checks, it is the best study design for tracking this sort of data and drawing the sorts of conclusions these authors make.

Another advantage is that the same group of trained workers objectively measured data on body weight, height, blood pressure and cholesterol, using standardised protocols, which reduced the chances of measurement errors.

However, it had some limitations:

  • The study was based on data from people living in one town in the Netherlands and the results may not be generalisable to other populations.
  • Although response rates during follow-up were good, those who dropped out before the end were more often lower educated and smokers, and were more likely to have certain risk factors, which could affect reliability of the results.
  • The researchers recorded smoking at baseline (ranging from 25 to 40% among the men and women recruited) but did not report if this was measured at follow-up visits or how this has changed over the years. This appears to be an opportunity missed as it is well understood in existing research that these risk factors are often seen together.

Still, the study’s results support an important health message about establishing the need for a healthy body weight at a young age, although increased physical activity and a balanced diet should be encouraged at all ages.

Analysis by Bazian. Edited by NHS Choices.

You Are What Your Father Eats: Father’s Diet Crucial To Newborn Health

Photo Samir and Ares Max Becic

Father’s Diet Before Conception Plays Crucial Role in Offspring’s Health, Study Suggests

Dec. 14, 2013 — Mothers get all the attention. But a study led by McGill researcher Sarah Kimmins suggests that the father’s diet before conception may play an equally important role in the health of their offspring. It also raises concerns about the long-term effects of current Western diets and of food insecurity.

The research focused on vitamin B9, also called folate, which is found in a range of green leafy vegetables, cereals, fruit and meats. It is well known that in order to prevent miscarriages and birth defects mothers need to get adequate amounts of folate in their diet. But the way that a father’s diet can influence the health and development of their offspring has received almost no attention. Now research from the Kimmins group shows for the first time that the father’s folate levels may be just as important to the development and health of their offspring as are those of the mother. Indeed, the study suggests that fathers should pay as much attention to their lifestyle and diet before they set out to conceive a child as mothers do.

“Despite the fact that folic acid is now added to a variety of foods, fathers who are eating high-fat, fast food diets or who are obese may not be able to use or metabolize folate in the same way as those with adequate levels of the vitamin,” says Kimmins. “People who live in the Canadian North or in other parts of the world where there is food insecurity may also be particularly at risk for folate deficiency. And we now know that this information will be passed on from the father to the embryo with consequences that may be quite serious.”

The researchers arrived at this conclusion by working with mice, and comparing the offspring of fathers with insufficient folate in their diets with the offspring of fathers whose diets contained sufficient levels of the vitamin. They found that paternal folate deficiency was associated with an increase in birth defects of various kinds in the offspring, compared to the offspring of mice whose fathers were fed a diet with sufficient folate.

“We were very surprised to see that there was an almost 30 per cent increase in birth defects in the litters sired by fathers whose levels of folates were insufficient,” said Dr. Romain Lambrot, of McGill’s Dept. of Animal Science, one of the researchers who worked on the study. “We saw some pretty severe skeletal abnormalities that included both cranio-facial and spinal deformities.”

The research from the Kimmins’ group shows that there are regions of the sperm epigenome that are sensitive to life experience and particularly to diet. And that this information is in turn transferred to a so-called epigenomic map that influences development and may also influence metabolism and disease in the offspring in the long-term. (The epigenome is like a switch, which is affected by environmental cues, and is involved in many diseases including cancer and diabetes. The epigenome influences the way that genes are turned on or off, and hence how heritable information gets passed along).

Although it has been known for some time that there is a massive erasure and re-establishment that takes place in the epigenome as the sperm develops, this study now shows that along with the developmental map, the sperm also carries a memory of the father’s environment and possibly even of his diet and lifestyle choices.

“Our research suggests that fathers need to think about what they put in their mouths, what they smoke and what they drink and remember they are caretakers of generations to come,” said Kimmins. “If all goes as we hope, our next step will be to work with collaborators at a fertility clinic so that we can start assessing the links in men between diet, being overweight and how this information relates to the health of their children.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by McGill University.

Slower Paced Meal Reduces Hunger but Affects Calorie Consumption Differently

Obesity rates in the United States increased from 14.5% of the population in 1971-1974 to 35.9% of the population in 2009-2010. It’s believed that one contributing factor to expanding waistlines is the reported increase in energy intake. Research suggests that the ability to control energy intake may be affected by the speed at which we eat, and a high eating rate may impair the relationship between the sensory signals and processes that regulate how much we eat.

In order to learn more about the relationship between eating speed and energy intake, a team of researchers in the Department of Kinesiology at Texas Christian University took a look at how eating speed affects calories consumed during a meal in both normal weight subjects as well as overweight or obese subjects. The investigators also collected data on feelings of hunger and fullness before and after the fast-paced and slow-paced meals and water consumption during the meals. Their results are published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

While previous studies have reviewed the relationship between eating speed and body weight, most of those studies were conducted with normal-weight individuals. In this new study, investigators asked a group of normal-weight subjects and a group of overweight or obese subjects to consume two meals in a controlled environment. All subjects ate one meal at a slow speed, for which they were instructed to imagine that they had no time constraints, take small bites, chew thoroughly, and pause and put the spoon down between bites, and a second meal at a fast speed, for which they were instructed to imagine that they had a time constraint, take large bites, chew quickly, and not pause and put the spoon down.

At the conclusion of the study, researchers found that only normal-weight subjects had a statistically significant reduction in caloric consumption during the slow compared to the fast meal: 88 kcal less for the normal weight group, versus only 58 kcal less for the overweight or obese group.

“Slowing the speed of eating led to a significant reduction in energy intake in the normal-weight group, but not in the overweight or obese group. A lack of statistical significance in the overweight and obese group may be partly due to the fact that they consumed less food during both eating conditions compared to the normal-weight subjects,” explained lead author Meena Shah, PhD, professor in the Department of Kinesiology at Texas Christian University. “It is possible that the overweight and obese subjects felt more self-conscious, and thus ate less during the study.”

Despite the differences in caloric consumption between the normal-weight and overweight and obese subjects, the study found some similarities. Both groups felt less hungry later on after the slow meal than after the fast meal. “In both groups, ratings of hunger were significantly lower at 60 minutes from when the meal began during the slow compared to the fast eating condition,” added Dr. Shah. “These results indicate that greater hunger suppression among both groups could be expected from a meal that is consumed more slowly.”

Also, both the normal weight and overweight or obese groups consumed more water during the slow meal. During the fast condition, participants across the study only consumed 9 ounces of water, but during the slow condition, that amount rose to 12 ounces. “Water consumption was higher during the slow compared to the fast eating condition by 27% in the normal weight and 33% in the overweight or obese group. The higher water intake during the slow eating condition probably caused stomach distention and may have affected food consumption,” said Dr. Shah.

With obesity rates continuing to rise among the adult population in the United States, information about how different weight groups approach and consume food will be helpful in crafting strategies to lower energy intake, but for now, Dr. Shah suggested, “Slowing the speed of eating may help to lower energy intake and suppress hunger levels and may even enhance the enjoyment of a meal.”

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Elsevier.


Sugar Deadly: Linked To $1 Trillion In U.S. Healthcare Spending

 It’s not new, but last month’s Credit Suisse report on sugar is both detailed and provocative. The sobering assessment is worth a second look – especially during this week’s binge festival of candy – Halloween. Sugar deadly for teens.

While the focus of the report is largely financial, there’s something for everyone – including healthcare professionals, researchers, politicians and really all of us as consumers. There are many highlights, but this one is a good summary of the sheer size and scope of excess sugar consumption on the U.S. healthcare system:

“So 30% – 40% of healthcare expenditures in the USA go to help address issues that are closely tied to the excess consumption of sugar.” Credit Suisse Report –

At this level, the math clearly lacks scientific precision, but it does emphasize the huge burden associated with a single and truly ubiquitous substance – sugar. Assuming a U.S. National Healthcare Expenditure of $3 trillion per year – and further assuming we simply take 33% (the lower end of the Credit Suisse range), the calculation is easy. Basically, the U.S. healthcare system spends about $1 trillion per year (and possibly more) fighting the effects of excess sugar consumption.

The report references a constellation of health effects around that excessive consumption – including coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Other known risks – mostly around being overweight and/or obese – include osteoarthritis, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, gout, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and cancer. A broader summary list of findings in the 40 page report include these:

 The 2012 Global Burden of Disease report highlighted obesity as a more significant health crisis globally than hunger and/or malnourishment.

 More than half a billion adults (over age 20) worldwide are obese.

 The world average daily intake of sugar and high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is now 70 grams (17 teaspoons).

 A scientific statement issued by the American Heart Association in 2009 recommends that women take no more than six teaspoons of added sugar a day and men no more than nine.

 A single, 12 ounce can of regular soda has about 8 teaspoons of sugar.

There’s a bonanza of charts and graphs too, but perhaps the single most compelling one is this one for global soda consumption:

According to the study, sugar itself accounts for over 80% of the global sweetener market. With a single commodity of this size, it’s no surprise that the lobbying power of the sugar industry is often compared to another global commodity – oil. “There are 15 million cane growers in China and 350,000 beet growers in Europe.” Another metric is the sheer volume of sugar (all its forms) in the typical U.S. daily diet – 38% – and Credit Suisse estimates that 43% of that is from a single product category – sweetened beverages.

While the toxic health effects of sugar are generally well known, there is mounting evidence to suggest that sugar has addictive properties as well.

“Sugar may not pose the clear addictive characteristics of illicit drugs such as cocaine and heroin, but to us it does meet the criteria for being a potentially addictive substance.” Credit Suisse

As a sub-category of sweetened beverages, the “energy” drink market delivers a compounding effect with another central nervous system stimulant – caffeine. The combination of sugar and caffeine (often served in small sizes to belie their potency) is in many ways a perfectly legal, over-the-counter, high calorie cocktail. Like any rebellious product, it’s targeted directly at the younger – mostly teenage demographic.

The story behind Monster’s high octane success was highlighted last month in a provocative piece by Simons Chase where he compared beverage “innovations” to financial “innovations” like derivatives.

“Food undergoes the equivalent of a leveraged recapitalization designed to suit the financial goals of its creator.  Consumption of junk food (for example a Twinkie or a sugary drink) is akin to a financial exchange where short-term gains are privatized and long-term costs are socialized in the form of horrific health outcomes.  The metabolic donkeys – consumers – pay relatively little money and turn a blind eye to the health consequences of their food choices – instead hoisting the fantastic profits of companies like Monster and opting for a shortened, diseased life.”Simons Chase – 2 Perspectives On Food Innovation: Sodastream vs. Monster Beverage MNST +1.09% (here)

Just how big are the profits we’re delivering as metabolic donkeys? Here’s a chart comparing some key metrics of Monster’s phenomenal success to another innovation juggernaut – Apple AAPL +1.64%:

Chase goes even further.

The truth is that Monster produces nothing – literally.  All of its beverage production is outsourced to third-party co-packers and suppliers.  In fact, Monster even claims not to own the formulas used in the production of its beverages.  According to company filings,  Monster says, “we do not have possession of the list of flavor ingredients or flavor formulas used in the production of our products.” It’s core value appears to be a vast collection of trademarks (3,700 at last count) and an army of part-time marketing employees.

In a marketing sense – we’ve traded our chiseled-jaw Marlboro Man (in this image a tattooed, shotgun-loading hunter) with a green-eyed, animated vixen. Unfortunately, just like cigarettes, the consequences are often lethal. As reported by Today Health (here) – the official cause of death in the case of one 14-year Maryland teenager last year was “cardiac arrhythmia due to caffeine toxicity.” The girl did have a known heart ailment, but according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine (here) “most of the time, mitral valve prolapse is harmless and does not cause symptoms.” The day before her death she had consumed two 24 ounce cans of Monster’s Energy drink.

A 2011 report (here) by the Drug Abuse and Warning Network (published bySAMHSA) suggests a non-trivial spike in ED visits tied to energy drink consumption.

If “patient engagement is the blockbuster drug of the century” (a phrase coined by Leonard Kish here), we may need a new accountability for companies that simply engage us as ”metabolic donkeys” for windfall profits. Unlike cigarettes, there are relatively easy ways to ”innovate” around food and beverage products that deliver more health and less disease. Before we demand healthier food and beverage choices from consumers (and penalize behavior that is less so), we need healthier (and more affordable) options to replace ones that simply promote “a shortened diseased life.” The financial mechanics of how those are likely to arrive on a global scale is another reason to read the Credit Suisse report.

 As originally published on Forbes.

Diet Cola Aging Effects: Making You Fat and Age Faster

Diet cola aging effects counter the fact that they have long been regarded as the dieter’s friend – but one-calorie fizzy drinks may actually be the reason you can’t shift that stubborn spare tyre.

Some health experts now believe the chemicals in the drink could actually be causing your body to lay down fat deposits around your middle – dubbed ‘diet cola belly’.

And that’s not all: some experts also believe diet cola’s mix of carbonated water, colourings and sweeteners such as aspartame and acesulfame K could also speed up the ageing process, and have disastrous health consequences.

Diet cola is NOT going to help you lose weight, say health experts - and it could even cause wrinkles

Diet cola is NOT going to help you lose weight, say health experts – and it could even cause wrinkles

Hoards of nutritionists and scientists now claim diet cola’s image as a ‘healthy’ alternative to the nine-teaspoons-of sugar, regular variety of the fizzy drink is wholly misplaced.


The fructose, artificial sweeteners, and sugar alcohols (another type of low-calorie sweetener) present in diet colas can all interfere with natural gut bacteria, according to Amanda Payne of Switzerland’s Institute of Food, Nutrition and Health which published a paper in the journal Obesity Reviews.

Diet cola could be causing fat deposits around your middle, say health experts

Diet cola could be causing fat deposits around your middle, say health experts.

This messes up your metabolism and disrupts the body’s way of signaling to you that you’re full and satisfied.

As a consequence, the body pumps out insulin, the hormone that controls sugar levels and fat storage, so that you lay down what Toribio-Mateas calls ‘diet cola belly in the form of more fat around the midriff’ – just where you wanted to shed fat.

In addition to this: ‘The fake sugars in the drink are hundreds of times sweeter than sugar and trick your brain into thinking real sugar is on the way,’ says Toribio-Mateas. ‘When the calories don’t arrive, it triggers a cascading effect that interferes with hunger signals, blood sugar levels and satiety.’


Amanda Griggs, director of health and nutrition at the Balance Clinic in London, says: ‘phosphoric acid, the ingredient that gives diet cola its appealing tangy taste and the tingle you get when it is swallowed, can cause a host of problems’.

According to one, study, published in a 2010 issue of the FASEB Journal, it can even accelerate the ageing process.

It found that the excessive phosphate levels found in sodas caused lab rats to die a full five weeks earlier than the rats whose diets had more normal phosphate levels.

Diet cola no healthier than sugary alternatives, say some health experts
The chemicals in diet cola could be responsible for your spare tyre, say some experts

The excessive phosphate levels found in sodas caused lab rats to die a full five weeks earlier than the rats whose diets had more normal phosphate levels

Phosphoric acid has also been linked to lower bone density in some studies, including a discussion in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

In experiments at Harvard University, the mineral was found to make skin and muscles wither and to damage the heart and kidneys over time.

However, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), a consumer watchdog group not affiliated with the food industry, only a small fraction of the phosphate in diets comes from additives in soft drinks. Most comes from meat and dairy products.


The phosphoric acid in cola drinks erodes away tooth enamel, and the coloring makes the root go dark brown

The phosphoric acid in cola drinks erodes away tooth enamel, and the coloring makes the root go dark brown

Sian Porter, spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association says diet colas may lack sugar, but the acidic nature of artificially sweetened fizzy varieties means they still attack tooth enamel.

‘It’s not just the sugary drinks that are causing teeth problems,’ says Porter. ‘Sugar raises the risk of decay, but diet drinks are equally acidic and can cause erosion in the same way.’


It has also been shown to raise the risk of type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure by some researchers. To add to the dire news for diet cola fans, results of a ten-year study found a link with cardiovascular disease among those who drank it every day; cola drinkers were found to be 43 per cent more likely to suffer a stroke or heart attack during a ten-year period than those who abstained.

Other studies have shown that the phosphorus released from phosphoric acid in just two fizzy drinks a week can cause calcium to be leached from bones, raising the risk of osteoporosis.

Cola (both diet and regular varieties) seems particularly damaging to the skeleton. Typically, a can of diet cola contains 44-62mg of phosphoric acid – more than in many other soft drinks – and researchers at Tufts University in Boston showed that women who regularly drank three or more cans a day had four per cent lower bone mineral density in their hips compared to those who preferred other soft drinks.

As originally published in the Mail Online.