Roundup: Sugary Drinks Plus Protein-Rich Meals Add Up to More Fat; Latest Diabetes Numbers in America

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July 28, 2017

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Eating meals that are high in protein can be good for you. But mixing protein-rich meals with sugary drinks could be harmful, U.S. researchers reported this week.

How bad is such a combination? The study was conducted to determine how certain foods affect the body’s energy balance and fat storage. The pairing of sugar-laden beverages and high-protein servings can result in the body increasing its storage of fat.

The report comes from the Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center located in eastern North Dakota. It is one of six such centers operated by the Agricultural Research Service of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The study involved 27 adults of average weight over two 24-hour periods. They were given protein-laden meals and sugar-heavy beverages.

Participants were given 15 percent protein meals on their first visit after an overnight fast, and then 30 percent protein meals under similar conditions on their second visit. On each visit, one sugar-sweetened beverage was consumed during one meal and one non-sugar-sweetened beverage was consumed during the other.

The researchers found that the sugar-sweetened drinks decreased the fat oxidation process after a meal by 8 percent. That results in the body taking longer to start breaking down fat molecules. For the 15 percent protein meal, that translated to 7.2 grams of potential fat that wasn’t burned. For the 30 percent protein meal, that figure increased to 12.6 grams.

Moreover, the sugary drinks altered the participants’ appetite patterns, causing them to not feel satisfied with their meal and to crave “savory and salty foods for four hours after eating,” said Shanon Casperson, M.D., lead author of the study for the Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center.

“We were surprised by the impact that the sugar-sweetened drinks had on metabolism when they were paired with higher-protein meals. This combination also increased study subjects’ desire to eat savory and salty foods for four hours after eating,” Dr. Casperson said.

The study’s results provide further insight into the role of “sugar-sweetened drinks – the largest single source of sugar in the American diet – in weight gain and obesity,” she added.

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More Than 100 Million in U.S. have Diabetes, Prediabetes

The number of Americans living with diabetes or prediabetes is increasing. More than 100 million people in the U.S. now have diabetes or prediabetes, according to the most recent National Diabetes Statistics Report published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

As of 2015, 30.3 million adults – or 9.4 percent of the U.S. population – had diabetes. Another 84.1 million – representing 33.9 percent of U.S. adults – had prediabetes, says the CDC.

The Southeast has the highest concentration of people living with diabetes, specifically Alabama and Mississippi. Overall, diabetes rates are higher among minority groups and increases with age. Of people aged 65 years or older, 25.2 percent of them have diabetes, according to the report.

The report also highlights new diabetes diagnoses in children and adolescents. Between 2011 and 2012, 17,900 children and adolescents younger than 20 years old were diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, and 5,300 children between ages 10 and 19 were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

People with diabetes have an increased risk of having cardiovascular disease, which puts them at risk for heart attack and stroke.

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