Roundup: Tax Sugary Drinks Globally to Fight Obesity, WHO Urges; Exercising When Angry Can Triple Heart Attack Risk

The World Health Organization suggested this week that governments should tax sugary drinks to help stem global epidemics of obesity, type 2 diabetes and tooth decay.

A 20 percent increase in the retail price of sugary drinks could lead to a 20 percent reduction in consumption of these drinks, the WHO said in a report issued this week on World Obesity Day.

“If governments tax products like sugary drinks, they can reduce suffering and save lives. They can also cut healthcare costs and increase revenues to invest in health services,” says Dr Douglas Bettcher, Director of WHO’s Department for the Prevention of Noncommunicable Diseases, in a statement.

In 2014, more than 1 in 3 (39 percent) adults worldwide aged 18 years and older were overweight, according to the WHO. The prevalence of obesity worldwide more than doubled between 1980 and 2014. About 11 percent of men and 15 percent of women (more than half a billion adults) are classified as obese, the WHO said. Additionally, an estimated 42 million children aged under 5 years were overweight or obese in 2015, an increase of about 11 million during the past 15 years.

Too many sugary drinks in the diet are directly linked to weight gain and obesity in the United States as well. Being obese or overweight can contribute heart disease, diabetes, tooth decay and even cancer.

“Nutritionally, people don’t need any sugar in their diet. WHO recommends that if people do consume free sugars, they keep their intake below 10% of their total energy needs, and reduce it to less than 5% for additional health benefits. This is equivalent to less than a single serving (at least 250 ml) of commonly consumed sugary drinks per day,” says Dr Francesco Branca, Director of WHO’s Department of Nutrition for Health and Development.

On average, Americans consume about 13 percent of daily calories from added sugars, but that percentage for teens is closer to 17 percent of calories, according to a recent report. This year, U.S. health officials issued revised dietary recommendations, calling for Americans to consume less than 10 percent of calories per day in “added sugars.”

The WHO’s recommendation to tax sugar was met with swift opposition from organizations representing sugar and beverage industries. The U.S.-based lobbying arm for the soft drink industry, which represents Coca-Cola, Pepsico and Red Bull , disagreed with what it called proposed “discriminatory taxation”.

Such a tax amounts to “an unproven idea that has not been shown to improve public health based on global experiences to date,” the Washington-based International Council of Beverages Associations (ICBA) said in a statement. “While we support WHO’s efforts to address obesity, we believe a comprehensive approach including emphasis on the whole diet is necessary to achieve a real and lasting solution,” the ICBA stated.

According to the new WHO report, national dietary surveys indicate that drinks and foods high in free sugars can be a major source of unnecessary calories in people’s diets, particularly in the case of children, adolescents and young adults.

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Exercising When Angry Can Triple Heart Attack Risk

Add running or other exercise routines to the list of things you should not do when you’re angry or upset. A large study has linked heavy exertion while stressed out or angry with a tripled risk of having a heart attack within an hour.

Regular exercise is a big factor in maintaining overall health and a proper weight, while helping prevent chronic disease. It can also prevent stress, which can contribute to heart disease and other ailments. But the new research published in the journal Circulation suggests there may be times when exercise is best delayed, especially if you are upset or angry.

The study is the first to review cases of thousands of participants from around the world. Earlier studies have found similar results, but they usually examine people from just one country. Study researcher Andrew Smyth, from McMaster University in Canada, and colleagues discovered that emotional stress alone or exercise alone can more than double a person’s likelihood of having a heart attack within the hour.

Based on the findings, the researchers recommend that those who are upset or angry, and who choose to exercise, should not go beyond their normal routine of physical activity or over-exert themselves.

“Physical exertion and anger or emotional upset are triggers associated with first AMI (acute myocardial infarction, or heart attack) in all regions of the world, in men and women, and in all age groups,” the researchers concluded.

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Calcium Supplements Linked to Plaque Buildup in Arteries

A new study from Johns Hopkins shows that calcium supplements may not be good for your heart health. After analyzing 10 years of medical data on more than 2,700 people, researchers say that taking supplements may actually cause plaque buildup in arteries, which can lead to long-term damage, or even potentially a heart attack.

In contrast, people who consume high amounts of calcium through the food they eat may actually be at a lower risk of heart disease, the study showed. This study’s findings contribute to a growing body of research that dietary supplements maybe harmful to your health — compared to eating a properly balanced diet.

“When it comes to using vitamin and mineral supplements, particularly calcium supplements being taken for bone health, many Americans think that more is always better,” said Dr. Erin Michos, associate director of preventive cardiology and associate professor of medicine at the Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Heart Disease at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “But our study adds to the body of evidence that excess calcium in the form of supplements may harm the heart and vascular system.”

Researchers analyzed data on the 2,700 participants, ages 45 to 84, who answered questions about their calcium intake, from both their diets and supplements.The participants also underwent two CT scans, one at the beginning of the study and another 10 years later. The scans looked for plaques containing calcium in the arteries of the heart, which are the coronary arteries.

The study was published Oct. 11 in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

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