Sugar is fast becoming a new public health enemy here and in world

Fast on the heels of a war against tobacco comes a similar campaign against sugar.

The health ministry, the Universidad de Costa Rica’s public health school and a United Nations agency are prepared to fire another salvo today. The purpose is to present a study about the promotion and advertising connected with foods and drink directed at children.

Monday, Tufts University in Boston came out with a study on sugar that said consumption of sugary drinks may lead to an estimated 184,000 adult deaths each year worldwide. The study was published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation.

The session today at the university is certainly going to characterize sugary drinks as bad for youngsters 16 and under.

The Tufts study says such drinks are bad for everyone. It attributed 24,000 deaths in México alone to diseases like diabetes that are encouraged by sugar. It used data from 2010.

The Tufts study is called the first detailed global report on the impact of sugar-sweetened beverages. Researchers estimated deaths and disabilities from diabetes, heart disease and cancers in 2010. In this analysis, sugar sweetened beverages were defined as any sugar-sweetened sodas, fruit drinks, sports/energy drinks, sweetened iced teas, or homemade sugary drinks that contained at least 50 calories per 8-ounce serving, said the university. 100 percent fruit juice was excluded, it added.

The impact of sugar-sweetened beverages varied greatly among populations, said the university: At the extremes, the estimated percentage of deaths was less than 1 percent in sugarbowl053015Japanese over 65 years old but 30 percent in Mexican adults younger than 45.

“Among the 20 countries with the highest estimated sugar-sweetened beverage-related deaths, at least eight were in Latin America and the Caribbean, reflecting the high intakes in that region of the world,” said Gitanjali Singh, lead author of the study and a research assistant professor, according to the university.

Meanwhile, sugar is big business in Costa Rica. The country produces  at least 456,000 metric tons of cane sugar each year, although the drought in Guanacaste is reducing the harvest this year.

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