News Roundup: Sugary Drinks Linked to Higher Risk of Heart Failure; Americans Taking More Prescription Drugs Than Ever

Yet another study is sounding the alarm for those who drink too many sugary drinks. A study of 42,000 Swedish men, over 12-year span, found that those who drank at least two sweetened beverages a day had a 23 percent higher risk of going into heart failure.

The study focused on fizzy drinks or sodas, sweetened fruit drinks and other beverages with added sugar or artificial sweeteners — but did not include natural fruit juice.

The study’s authors emphasize that the sugary drinks alone may not be responsible for the higher risk of heart failure, since diets rich in such beverages usually indicate poor overall nutritional habits.

“The takeaway message is that people who regularly consume sweetened beverages should consider limiting their consumption to reduce their risk of heart failure,” said co-author Dr. Susanna Larsson of the Stockholm Karolinska Institute. The study was published Monday in the British Medical Journal.

Previous research as linked sweetened drinks to higher risks of high blood pressure, diabetes and even stroke.

The newest study by Swedish researchers is believed to be the first to create a link between sugary drinks and heart failure.

Heart failure is caused by the heart failing to pump enough blood around the body, usually after a heart attack. Almost 6 million people live with an elevated risk of heart failure in the U.S. However, their daily lives can be challenging without the ability to perform many daily tasks such as walking short distances. These patients often suffer from shortness of breath after even minimal efforts.

But the researchers themselves concede that the study cannot draw definitive conclusions about cause and effect because the study “only involved older white men, the findings may not be applicable to younger age groups, women, or certain ethnicities …”

Moreover, the researchers suggest that “high consumption of sweetened drinks is usually an indicator of a poor general diet, which is probably a more reliable determinant of disease development than any one component.”

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— John Fernandez

Americans Taking More Prescription Drugs Than Ever

The latest research about prescription drug use in the U.S. finds nearly 60 percent of Americans take at least one prescription medication. The prevalence is a 16 percent increase over the last 12 years, up from 51 percent in 1999, according to the study published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

The JAMA study investigated prescription drug use of more than 37,000 adults over the age of 20 between 1999 and 2012. The most marked increase – climbing almost 90 percent – was the number of Americans taking five or more prescription medications. This group now accounts for 15 percent of the adult population in the U.S. and represents, in large part, adults age 65 and older.

And there may be a link to obesity. Researchers note 80 percent of the most commonly prescribed drugs help treat conditions related to obesity, including heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol. These are health conditions people who are overweight are likely to acquire.

Classes of prescription drugs that increased most significantly included antidepressants and cholesterol-lowering statins.

Reasons for the increases cited by the researchers include more access to prescription medication through private insurance, increased direct-to-consumer marketing by drug companies and better screening methods and diagnostics.

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— Tanya Racoobian Walton

ZooRun5K: Training, Nutrition & Registration

Are you training for ZooRun5K and ZooKidsDash taking place 7 a.m., Saturday, November 14, at Zoo Miami? Here’s a look at what the ZooRun is all about. Watch now.

Tim Katz, a registered dietitian at Baptist Health South Florida offers several nutritional tips that show you what foods and drinks boost your energy and fuel your body before, during and after the race. He says you don’t need any special diet to start your exercise program, but you should include a combination of fruits, vegetables, carbohydrates (bread, rice, pasta), lean proteins (chicken, fish, turkey) and low-fat dairy.

Here are some of Tim’s other suggestions:
• Eat one to four hours before training.
• If you are training for a marathon or any sport that lasts for a long period of time, consume 25-60 grams of carbohydrates (energy bars, gummies, hard candy, sports drinks) every hour after the first hour.
• Drink water for the first hour of your training, but as you increase your time, consider drinking sports drinks because they help stabilize the electrolytes and carbohydrates in your body.
• Chocolate milk is a great drink after your run or exercise program. It has the perfect ratio of carbohydrates and protein.

Tim says that “for any exercise routine, it’s important to hydrate and follow a nutritious meal plan.” to Run Wild?
Registration is open for the ZooRun5K and ZooKidsDash taking place 7 a.m., Saturday, November 14, at Zoo Miami. Participants will receive a T-shirt, medal and free zoo admission for the day.

Participants are encouraged to dress or accessorize like their favorite animal to win prizes at the costume contest. Proceeds from the run will benefit West Kendall Baptist Hospital and the Zoological Society of Florida.

–Sharon Harvey Rosenberg

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With internationally renowned centers of excellence, 12 hospitals, more than 27,000 employees, 4,000 physicians and 200 outpatient centers, urgent care facilities and physician practices spanning across Miami-Dade, Monroe, Broward and Palm Beach counties, Baptist Health is an anchor institution of the South Florida communities we serve.

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