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Cut Sugary Beverages and Help Fight Against Diabetes Epidemic

by Al G Smith

(NaturalNews) Recently revealed statistics show that the consumption of high sugar beverages is on the rise and so is the incidence of diabetes in the US. Adopting some simple changes in lifestyle and dietary habits could help you to lose weight and avoid becoming one of the next ill-health statistics.

Statistics indicate that US citizens are consuming over 16% more calories from sweetened beverages now than they were twenty years ago. This has pumped up the daily energy intake, derived from the sugar in hot drinks and sodas alone, to around 300 calories.

The consumption pattern for sugar-sweetened drinks has shown a steady increase over the years. Unsurprisingly, the highest proportion of sugar sweetened sodas is consumed by the younger population with young African Americans consuming the highest proportion of sugar-sweetened beverages. But the contribution of calories from sweetened hot drinks, perhaps more commonly consumed by an older population should not be overlooked.

At a personal level, if you have not improved upon your exercise regime or otherwise burn more calories through activity than you did two decades ago, your sweetened hot drinks and sodas could lead to a steady gain of five pounds, or more, in weight every year. So, middle-aged spread is an increasing likelihood if you are an average citizen who has not improved their general lifestyle habits since early adulthood. And let's face it, most of us are probably less active at 45 than we were at 25, which puts us squarely in the potential danger zone.

But the extra calories derived from drinking sweet hot coffee and tea, or a 'refreshing' soda-pop, and the potential associated weight gain is not the only problem consumers may have to contend with. Being overweight has long been associated with elevated health risks of various major kinds. Heart health is threatened and the risk of developing diabetes is much higher, and these are just two examples.

Increasing sugar intake undoubtedly contributes to the eventual development of a diabetic condition and recent studies confirm that the incidence of 'full blown' diabetes continues to rise inexorably in the US, which probably reflects the pattern in other developed countries with similar diet and lifestyle habits.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated, in January 2009, that recently analyzed statistics for 2007 indicate that there are now around 24 million US citizens with diabetes. This represents an increase in the incidence of diagnoses of diabetes of about 12.5%, or around three million cases, since just 2005.

A spokesperson tried to put some positive spin on other figures that apparently show that those who 'did not know' they had diabetes has decreased during this same period, from 3 to about 2.5 in 10. But this is small comfort as many have simply progressed from not knowing about it, to being confirmed as diabetic. So, this is hardly 'good news' in the real sense – except perhaps for the pharmaceutical companies who may now be profiting from providing medications to them.

Almost one third of the US population is now classed as pre-diabetic, which means that the number of Americans who may be progressing towards becoming diabetic is rapidly approaching 60 million. Because the occurrence of a full blown diabetic condition takes time to develop, in most cases, due in large part to maintaining long-term poor lifestyle and dietary habits, it is the older population that has the greatest number of diabetes victims. The 2007 statistics confirm that a full one quarter of US seniors over 60 years of age where diabetic.

There are also significant statistical differences in the incidence of diabetes occurring in various ethnic groups. In the Mexican American and non-Hispanic black populations there were double the number of cases of diabetes compared with non-Hispanic whites. Whilst pre-diabetes cases remained more or less constant across the groups.

Diabetes is of course no lightweight health issue. The disease is classed as the seventh leading cause of death in the US. But on the way towards the death bed, sufferers of diabetes can face major health challenges such as developing coronary heart disease, failing kidneys, going blind and even having limbs amputated as blood flow problems become exacerbated.

Actively adopting lifestyle and dietary changes are increasingly recognized as important steps towards defusing the diabetic time-bomb, as well as reducing the likelihood of other health problems developing. Evidently a step as simple as cutting back those sweetened beverages will have some benefit. It is claimed that by removing those extra 300 calories from sugary-sweet liquids from the diet you could lose 2.5 pound in weight every month.

But the answer would not be to replace the sugar based drinks with artificially sweetened ones, no matter how much the tireless tirade of marketing and in-store merchandising tries to persuade you to do so. Rather it is a question of actively trying to re-educate your sweet tooth. It may be easier said than done, but even resisting the temptation to drink sweetened drinks for a week or so will help you gain some perspective on just how sickly-sweet a lot of products are should you then try them again.

Consumers palates have become 'perverted' by manufacturers heavy handed use of sugar in many processed products in daily use. Sugar is effectively addictive and many people know all too well the short-term buzz of the sugar-rush. Like any addiction it takes will-power and effort to overcome. But it is better to try and reduce your dependence on sugar by developing a taste for less sweet things, not by simply replacing sugar with another sweet and synthetic chemical poison, commonly referred to as artificial sweeteners.

Making 2009 the year that you actively fight your sugar addiction could be a major step, along with increasing your levels of activity, towards avoiding becoming one of the next 'pre-diabetic' statistics, or even worse being diagnosed as a full blown 'diabetic'.

For hundreds of years sugar has been used widely as a preservative in many food and drink items. But now that the true risks of a high-sugar diet are becoming so transparent, it has never been more important that we choose to combat our addiction to sugar in order to preserve our own health.

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