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Soda May Age You as Much as Smoking (time.com)
273 points by bribri on Oct 21, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 248 comments



The key results from the paper:

    After adjustment for sociodemographic and health-related
    characteristics, sugar-sweetened soda consumption was 
    associated with shorter telomeres (b = –0.010; 95% 
    confidence interval [CI] = −0.020, −0.001; P = .04).
    Consumption of 100% fruit juice was marginally associated
    with longer telomeres (b = 0.016; 95% CI = −0.000, 0.033;
    P = .05). No significant associations were observed between
    consumption of diet sodas or noncarbonated SSBs and 
    telomere length.
Shortened telomeres are one way to measure genetic 'age'. So they saw 'aging' with sugar-sweetened soda, the opposite with fruit juice, and no significant difference with diet sodas or non-carbonated sugary sodas.

The study was pretty substantial with ~5,300 participants with no history of cardiovascular disease or diabetes. It's nice to have another datapoint against some of the bro-sciencey "Fruit juice has as much sugar as soda" arguments.

Late Edit:

Here's a pretty good summary of telomere aging:

http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/chromosomes/telomeres...


Fruit juice may be good for your telomeres, but there are plenty of other reasons to be suspicious of it---"bro-science" it is not. For example, Google "fruit juice and obesity" or see http://blogs.plos.org/obesitypanacea/2012/03/09/shout-it-fro...

And besides, who says a "bro" can't science? ;)


> And besides, who says a "bro" can't science? ;)

Very fair point. I guess I've been exposed to too many paleo "all sugar is equally evil" bros lately. They can certainly science with the rest of them.

Hell, Kary Mullis won a Nobel for inventing PCR which he practically did from his surf board. Although his later absurdity^ re: AIDS / Astrology / Climate Change might give some more credence to keeping the bros out of science ;-)

^Absurdity not absurdism


Just because Kary Mullis is a surfer does that make him a "bro"? He was a proper scientist when he invented PCR. Although he did quit science to manage a bakery for 2 years!


Absurdism is something quite different...


Yeah, wow, thanks for the correction.. Can you tell that the Myth of Sisyphus is on my bedside table right now?


And how about sugar in honey? I just wonder.


Both honey and high fructose corn syrup are > 85% water, fructose, and glucose in ratios similar enough to not make a difference.

Unless something in the remaining few percent is protective for honey and or harmful for HFCS, it's doubtful that there's a difference health-wise.


Well, to be fair, the remaining few percent of honey has some ridiculously fancy enzyme action going on, an eminently plausible mechanism for inducing protective benefits and anecdotally suspected of being vaguely beneficial to health.


Health-wise, I know which one I would be reaching for first if I needed to treat a wound. I haven't yet heard of medical grade HFCS. http://cid.oxfordjournals.org/content/46/11/1677.full


Late to the party, but...

There does seem to be a difference between honey and refined sugar that is worth noting. This study compared rats eating lots of starch, glucose + fructose or honey: http://jn.nutrition.org/content/132/11/3379.full.pdf+html

This blogpost displays some of its data in nice, colorful bar charts: http://blog.cholesterol-and-health.com/2010/10/high-fructose...


There are some significant problems drawing conclusions from that study about what you should eat.

* The study was done on rats

* n=9/group

* They used fructose/glucose from a laboratory supplier, not HFCS from a supplier used by food manufacturers

* They fed the rats 100% starch/fructose+glucose/honey and vitamins (real people have varied diets)

The conclusions you should draw are that A) eating a diet of 100% HCFS is probably a bad thing (duh) and B) honey has antioxidants.

So if you replace your HFCS with honey, you don't need to get as many antioxidants from other sources.

Were they to control for antioxidant content, this study might be a bit more interesting.


Did they describe how they controlled for behavioral habits? It seems like, as a group, the type of people who would drink large amounts of sugary soda would be less likely to make healthy behavioral choices in other aspects of their life, compared to people who drink fruit juice or diet soda. This could also explain the disparity between soda and non-carbonated sugar-sweetened beverages

This study doesn't seem to show that soda ages you (as the article states), but instead that sugary soda consumption indicates a tendency towards other activities/habits that may prematurely age you.


I just looked through the study. They controlled for Smoking, Alcohol, Energy Intake, Alcohol Intake, Healthy Eating (via "Healthy Eating Index"), Body Mass Index, and Waist Circumference.

Relevant Section:

Health-related variables included smoking status (never, former, current), pack-years of smoking (0, < 30, 30---60, and > 60), physical activity assessed from questionnaire (some activity, no activity), total energy intake, alcohol intake, and Healthy Eating Index 2005 (HEI 2005) score, which is a dietary pattern de- veloped by the USDA to measure compliance with national dietary guidelines. The HEI 2005 is scored out of 100 points and comprises 12 components: total fruit, whole fruit, total vegetables, dark green and orange vegetables and legumes, total grains, whole grains, milk, meat and beans, oils, saturated fat, sodium, and calories from solid fats, alcoholic beverages, and added sugars. We collapsed HEI 2005 scores into gender-specific quartiles: for men, the cutpoints were 42.1, 45.9, and 50.5; for women, the cutpoints were 44.4, 48.6, and 53.5. We defined alcohol intake as low (0---0.5 drinks/day for men and women), moderate (0.5---2.0 drinks/day for men; 0.5--- 1.5 drinks/day for women), and heavy ( > 2 drinks/day for men, > 1.5 drinks/day for women).

Adiposity measures included body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference. We calculated BMI from self-reported height (in meters) and weight (in kilograms squared), measured by trained personnel using a stadiometer and Toledo weight scale (Toledo Scale, Honolulu, HI). We defined BMI categories as underweight (BMI < 18.5 kg/m2), normal weight (BMI = 18.5---24.9 kg/m2), overweight (BMI = 25.0---29.9 kg/m2), and obese (BMI ‡ 30 kg/m2). Waist circumference (centimeters) was measured at the upper lateral border of the right ilium. We defined elevated waist circumference as 102 centimeters or greater for men and 88 centimeters or greater for women.


> This study doesn't seem to show that soda ages you (as the article states), but instead that sugary soda consumption indicates a tendency towards other activities/habits that may prematurely age you.

No offense, but the authors are very accomplished public health researchers. If their study showed what you suggest, I think that would be their headline. What they showed with (relative) certainty is that those who drink sugary carbonated drinks have shorter telomeres than those who don't. There will be follow-up work to determine the mechanism and the causes.

In either case;

> Epel is co-leading a new study in which participants will be tracked for weeks in real time to look for effects of sugar-sweetened soda consumption on aspects of cellular aging. Telomere shortening has previously been associated with oxidative damage to tissue, to inflammation, and to insulin resistance.


I don't see any reason to discount the authors, but a couple of things to keep in mind:

1) This is Time's popularization of their study, so Time is naturally going to put forward the most interesting and least nuanced claims of theirs.

2) They may be accomplished researchers, but if you are well-versed in an academic discipline and read material in it, it quickly becomes clear that sometimes points which seem obvious have not actually been accounted for whether by mistake or because they don't allow for interesting publishable material.

Again, I'm not saying that is the case, and my points above are overly cynical, but the original poster's question is valid.


The Time article is actually a very dry summary of the study's key finding, written in colloquial but not sensational language. It also has a link to the study in the very first sentence. I found the full text very easily: http://www.chc.ucsf.edu/ame_lab/pdfs/Leung%20et%20al%202014a...

The poster above could easily have satisfied his/her own curiosity on this point. 'Did researchers control for [extremely obvious thing]?' is becoming like 'correlation is not causation' - a smart-sounding thing to say instead of going to the effort of engaging with the material. It only took me 2 minutes to track down the paper and find that the covariate factors are discussed in detail over a full page of the paper.


1. Some of us aren't subscribers to APHA or aren't interested in spending $22 on the article.

2. Why so confrontational? If you know the answer to the question, why not summarize it? Is the answer to the question so complicated that it would take more time and energy than the two paragraphs you composed in derision?


I can address #2;

> If you know the answer to the question, why not summarize it? Is the answer to the question so complicated that it would take more time and energy than the two paragraphs you composed in derision?

Every science article posted on HN gets the exact same treatment where well-intentioned but scientifically ignorant posters fill the comment section with drive-by posts saying "Correlation != Causation" or "Did they correct for [obvious variable]".

It's exhausting and completely unproductive.

If they would take 30 seconds and actually read the source information, they would answer their questions and the comment threads wouldn't devolve into this annoying meta conversation.

Take the post that prompted this whole thing;

> Did they describe how they controlled for behavioral habits? It seems like, as a group, the type of people who would drink large amounts of sugary soda would be less likely to make healthy behavioral choices in other aspects of their life, compared to people who drink fruit juice or diet soda. This could also explain the disparity between soda and non-carbonated sugar-sweetened beverages

> This study doesn't seem to show that soda ages you (as the article states), but instead that sugary soda consumption indicates a tendency towards other activities/habits that may prematurely age you.

So a poster, that later admits he didn't read the article, not only discounts the research that a half dozen PhDs in public health performed, but then provides his own summary of their research that is completely at odds with their results and experience.

How is this helpful?

If one were trying to troll a comment section to waste everyone's time, that's literally the best tactic since anything more obvious would be flagged or ignored.


> It's exhausting and completely unproductive.

And completely accurate. You know what's more exhausting than seeing someone point out that correlation!=causation? Being whiplashed by a dozen different studies, or correlation after correlation failing when subjected to a randomized test.

In this case, all you have to do is look at how they tried to defend against the universal healthy user bias (you know, the same thing that led to such epic fails as hormone therapy?), and see that all they did was adjust for weight and some self-reports. Bzzt. On top of that, note the anomalies:

> Only the sugary, bubbly stuff showed this effect. Epel didn’t see any association between telomere length and diet soda intake. “The extremely high dose of sugar that we can put into our body within seconds by drinking sugared beverages is uniquely toxic to metabolism,” she says. She also didn’t see a significant link between non-carbonated sugary beverages, like fruit juice, which Epel says surprised her.

You know what sugar-juice and diet soda have in common? People think they're healthier than regular soda.


> In this case, all you have to do is look at how they tried to defend against the universal healthy user bias (you know, the same thing that led to such epic fails as hormone therapy?), and see that all they did was adjust for weight and some self-reports. Bzzt.

They actually adjusted for age, smoking (never, former, current), pack-years of smoking, energy intake using the USDA's HEI, alcohol intake, physical activity (some/none), BMI, and waist circumference. They also didn't include anyone with prexisiting cardiovascular conditions or diabetes.

Their results confirmed earlier studies very strongly -- race, 'never' smokers, younger age, and healthy weight all corresponded to longer telomeres (P < .001), and their results showed significance with sugary sodas.

> You know what sugar-juice and diet soda have in common? People think they're healthier than regular soda.

I'm not sure what you're trying to imply with this one though. Just read page 5 of the actual study. This is good science and generic insults are just noise when everything is actually addressed:

http://www.chc.ucsf.edu/ame_lab/pdfs/Leung%20et%20al%202014a...


This is what I was hoping to see from the start. How they accounted for the differences between "sugary soda drinkers" and others. I still don't see how the general attitude of soda drinkers or their level of exercise was evaluated. Perhaps you left out some of the factors mentioned. Still, it seems completely reasonable to ask for more information about the groups before concluding that drinking soda is the cause of shorter telemores.


> energy intake using the USDA's HEI

Based on self-reports, though, yes?


> They actually adjusted for age, smoking (never, former, current), pack-years of smoking, energy intake using the USDA's HEI, alcohol intake, physical activity (some/none), BMI, and waist circumference.

All of which are self-reports (food and energy intake as a self-report, when it's well known in the field that self-reports are flattering? and you have the gall to imply that this is good reliable science) or based on weight, just as I said. Please think a little more about this.

> I'm not sure what you're trying to imply with this one though.

What...? OK, I'll charitably assume you're just ignorant here of problems with dietary research and explain (hopefully I won't be wasting my time and receive a response of 'I WANT TO BELIEVE'): whenever a large regression like this is run, there are always many correlations with various behaviors and food consumption; for example, people who eat nuts or blueberries or who exercise regularly or take statins are also people who tend to live longer on average or have other good outcomes. It is tempting to implicitly assume that eating blueberries is a random practice in the population and so this shows that blueberries probably cause you to live longer; however, it is also true that blueberries are widely believed by the general population to be healthy foods, and so the sort of people who pay for and eat blueberries (or claim to eat them, anyway) are also the sort of people who are in good health, are health-conscious, will follow their doctors' orders, comply with drug dosing regimens or regularly test their blood glucose, etc. This bias is universal, and this is why, for example, in the infamous Nurses's Study, hormones seemed so great when they turned out to be murderous in randomized practice: because hormones were believed to be healthy, it was healthy compliant nurses who self-selected into use of hormones and because they were healthy and complaint, had good outcomes anyway.

So, what is a warning sign of healthy user bias? It's when the common trait among harmful/beneficial correlates is whether they are generally believed to be harmful/beneficial even when the supposed causal chemical mechanism is inconsistent. In this case, soda is considered by the general population to be unhealthy, diet soda to be healthier (it's got diet in the name!), and fruit juice the healthiest of all. The former seems to be bad, and the latter two good or at least neutral. And why would soda be so harmful? Well, generally you'd suggest the acidicness or the sugar content; except... either of them should cause either diet soda or fruit juice to be harmful (acidicness or very high sugar content, respectively). But there is an explanation resolving the lack of harm for either: people with better health habits or interest will preferentially consume diet soda or fruit juice and avoid awful soda... and if we correlate consumption with outcomes, we'll find the soda drinkers have the worst outcomes. Voila: healthy user bias.

(You see something similar in studies of maternal smoking or smoking by pregnant women; the effect seems dramatic and harmful to the child, but consider this: given that everyone believes only the worst mothers in the world would smoke while pregnant, what sort of woman would over the past decades smoke while pregnant? Probably not one who plans ahead, is self-disciplined, health-conscious, rich, or intelligent, all of which are heritable, and are difficult if not impossible to completely measure in all their manifestations & remove as confounds. If you wanted a more accurate analysis, taking this possibility into mind, you might do something like find women who smoked while having one child and didn't smoke while having a second child, and compare pairs of children; then you'll find that the harmful effects mostly disappear.)

This cannot be adjusted away simply by a few self-reports because it is a systematic subtle effect on all life outcomes - for example, to name just 2 of the lurking confounds, in other studies one can find longevity boosts to IQ and Conscientiousness for what is suggested to be the same exact reason (more likely to understand or carry out good health practices, respectively), but neither of those was measured by this study.

> This is good science and generic insults are just noise when everything is actually addressed: http://www.chc.ucsf.edu/ame_lab/pdfs/Leung%20et%20al%202014a....

Healthy user biases are never 'actually addressed' by a study of this type, that's the point.


Healthy user bias based on confounding factors I can understand between people who do not drink fizzy drinks and those who do.

However I would not expect it to then give a clear linear link between specific consumption and telomere length as shown in this study, as the confounding factors are unlikely to be directly linked to exactly how much you consume:

"we found that each daily 8-ounce serving of sugar-sweetened sodas was linearly associated with shorter telomeres, roughly equivalent to 1.9 additional years of aging, independent of sociodemographic characteristics and health-related variables"


> However I would not expect it to then give a clear linear link

No, that's also consistent with healthy user bias: drinking soda and healthy attitudes/habits are not binary variables, they both seem like they would be relatively continuous (you can drink 1 can of soda a day, or 2, or 3, or 4, or 5, or anywhere in between for that matter; and you can be very concerned and conscientious about your life, or concerned, or somewhat concerned, or a little concerned), and so you would expect dose-response relationships. There's no less reason to expect linearity from soda/health than soda/telomeres.

(If it was as easy as all that to refute healthy user bias and other confounds, they wouldn't be such a big deal...)


These adjustments look so impressive... not.


> So a poster, that later admits he didn't read the article, not only discounts the research that a half dozen PhDs in public health performed, but then provides his own summary of their research that is completely at odds with their results and experience.

Welcome to the internet!


Given that most published medical research findings are false, their scepticism is well founded.

Your confidence, to the contrary, may be borne of ignorance.

http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fj...


It's not skepticism, it's rejectionism. Skepticism would have been to look up the paper and then argue that it's deficient in some manner - sample size too small, errors in the methodology, whatever it may be. I'm well aware that many, many published studies are scientifically deficient or overstated in some way, and have no problem with such deficiencies being pointed out.

Asking 'did the researchers consider X' without bothering to even look at the paper is just posturing. It's on the same level as saying 'this looks shopped - I can tell by some of the pixels and from having seen quite a few shop jobs in my time.' It may be an attempt to signal hard-headedness and intellectual rigor, but absent any specific target for the criticism, it's worthless.


> Given that most published medical research findings are false, their scepticism is well founded.

Ugh. Another blanket statement that in no way reflects the actual paper in question.

From your own source he recommends larger studies, cross-team work clear pre-trial hypotheses, and study-registration.

Guess what?

This n=5,300 study was performed by researchers at UCSF, Stanford, Berkeley, and Michigan, they published their intention to run the study prior to running it with a hypothesis that was partially proved wrong (they expected shortened telomeres with noncarbonated SSBs as well as with sugary soda).

What exactly is your issue with this study? Or do you just reject science in general.


are you arguing that given a study that turned out to be false, a layman should be able to spot the error in methodology?

I don't think that's the case at all. It isn't a black and white issue, and I certainly don't feel it has been conclusively shown that if I start drinking drinks that are BOTH fizzy and sugary tomorrow, it will result in my telomeres shortening at an unusually high rate as the article claims. Is that really anti science? I don't think so.


It has been shown that there is good evidence that this is the case, which they are going to follow up with further study.

And lay folk do find errors in papers all the time, it varies a lot on the paper and the field how difficult that is though. Some papers, the vast majority of scientists would not be able to spot errors, it really depends on how specialist the required knowledge is and there really are no hard and fast rules there.

So given a study that turned out to be false, in general it isn't possible to argue either way as to whether a layman would spot errors, you would have to argue it on a case by case basis.

The one thing we do know is you definitely cannot spot errors without at least reading the thing and going through the working.


1. Neither am I. I used Google to find a copy on the author's academic website which took all of 20 seconds. You can find full-text versions of most scientific papers by searching on the journal article title and appending 'filetype:pdf'.

2. Yes, the answer to the question is complicated. As I mentioned, it occupies a full page of the study. I could have summarized this in a few words, but the authors had already done that in the abstract and the poster didn't consider that good enough.


You've made some really good points. I guess I read the parent post a bit differently. I was looking through for a summary of how the lifestyle difference between soda drinkers and fruit juice drinkers had been handled. When I saw that post, I thought woowee, here's the thread where the answer will come in. A brief synthesis of the page you mentioned would have really helped me determine the credibility of the article. I can, however, understand the frustration with the statement of "this is more likely [some other reason] than the experts' conclusion." More reasonable is "If you've read the full article, how did experts deal with [this other reason]?" If the answer is complicated and occupies a full page, I don't think it's unreasonable to ask for the cliff notes.


In fact, in this case it's more or less exactly like 'correlation is not causation'.


Don't be a dick. I was asking a legitimate question because I was curious about the research methodology and, while the study linked in the article had a price tag of $22, the person I replied to seemed to have access to it. Thanks for finding the full text, I will read it when I get home from work (which is why I didn't have time to search for the full text).


I'm pretty sure the time I spent searching for it was less than the time it took you to write this comment. I did one Google search and it was the top result.


Off-topic: Pain in searching with ease, possibly a start up idea.


Edited from the report:

Potential confounders included sociodemographics (participant’s age, gender, self-reported race/ethnicity (white, black, Hispanic, other), highest educational attainment, ratio of family income to poverty, and marital status.

Health-related variables included smoking status, pack-years of smoking, physical activity assessed from questionnaire (some activity, no activity), total energy intake, alcohol intake, and Healthy Eating Index 2005.


Their confidence intervals include 0 or nearly-0, their P-values are at or near the .05 cutoff, and they tested a bunch of different things and got results on a few that don't really make sense.

In related news, green jelly beans cause acne: https://xkcd.com/882/


> Their confidence intervals include 0 or nearly-0, their P-values are at or near the .05 cutoff

They ran two different models and found across all cohorts (correcting for age, race, BMI, marital status, smoking, history, physical activity levels, and education) that those who regularly consumed sugar-sweetened soda had statistically shorter telomeres -- and that this affect is correlated with the amount of consumption.

> Because of the model-based estimate in this sample of the age-associated rate of telomere shortening of 13.6 base pairs per year, this was equivalent to 1.9 additional years of aging for an 8-ounce serving of sugar-sweetened sodas. For a daily consumption of the current standard 20-ounce serving size for sugar-sweetened sodas, this corresponds to 4.6 additional years of aging.

This is good science, and treating it as less than that to set up a joke is pointless.


The "joke" points out an important flaw.


It really doesn't though.

Something tells me green-account "Scientist007", that you might not actually be a scientist.


No, you have got it all wrong. They must surely be a secret-agent-scientist. That's why nobody understand them. They are using secret-science learned at spy-school that nobody else knows about.


Please avoid posting comments that lower the signal-noise ratio in HN threads.


> So they saw 'aging' with sugar-sweetened soda, the opposite with fruit juice, and no significant difference with diet sodas or non-carbonated sugary sodas.

What compounds in soda are most likely causing this? If they're not seeing the results in fruit juice, its not sugar causing the damage.


Could it be that sugar is responsible, but other stuff in fruit juice somehow inhibits it or compensates for it?


I was thinking in the opposite direction, that maybe sugar is responsible but the effect is triggered/compounded by the bubbles [or C02 or carbonic acid] in some way?

There's a joke in here about muddy waters [a cocktail made variously with coke and OJ] somewhere ...


I bet Deepak Chopra knows, and it has something to do with quantum energy.


There's more than one kind of sugar. Juices have both fructose and glucose; the former is more likely to be stored by the liver, the latter is deployed more widely around the body. Soda has much higher levels of fructose than glucose, thanks to all that high-fructose corn syrup that has become so popular with food manufacturers. There seems to be mounting evidence that high fructose intake is correlated with increased obesity. Here's a recent article on the topic: http://www.theguardian.com/society/the-shape-we-are-in-blog/...

If you head to YouTube and look for Dr Robert Lustig, a researcher at UCSF, there's a 1 or 2 hour lecutre he has delivered on this topic which goes into great detail ont eh different metabolic pathways different kinds of sugar take within the body.


Oh this thread is going to pull out all the fun ones. Can they program anything to penalize any diet / food topics? Nothing smart is ever said and all the studies are always inconclusive and at best hint at new directions for additional research.

Anyhow, to the above comment: http://nutritiondata.self.com/foods-000011000000000000000.ht...

Nutritional studies are worse than physiological studies. It's impossible to control for everything and just gets picked up but one side of the crazies or the other and like they will here just lead to a bunch of speculative anecdotal arguments.


Apart from this one: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MARS-500

From : " "A reduction in salt intake led to a significant fall in blood pressure, even in the healthy volunteers," explains Jens Titze, from Erlangen-Nuremberg University." .. "Titze gradually reduced the daily salt intake of the 'cosmonauts' during the course of the world's longest metabolism study, while keeping all other nutrients unchanged."

But well, it's not something every study can do.

[] http://www.dlr.de/dlr/en/desktopdefault.aspx/tabid-10525/873...


Don't forget, the nutrition bloggers (paleo, vegan, etc) will get more fuel for cherry picked blog posts so they can sell more ads, products, newsletter sponsorships, etc.


I started to research what you said and it seems your mistaken (not sure since I don't know much about the topic).

From what I found, HFCS 55 which is used in soda is 55% fructose and 42% glucose. I haven't found the percentage of fructose and glucose in juices but apparently in a navel orange, there's an average of 8.5 of total sugars comprised of 2.25g fructose, 2.0g fructose and 4.3g of sucrose.

It seems that the ratio is the same as HFCS 55 for navel oranges but the difference is the presence of sucrose which seems not to be present in Soda. I'll have to read more to see if sucrose is more important...


Dr. Lustig's views are not consistent with mainstream scientific opinions on the subject.[1] I would be careful about using his work to justify things.

[1] http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/does-the-movie-fed-up-ma...


They claim that they don't see any effect with non-carbonated sugary drinks, so the questionable HFCS bogeyman doesn't apply.


[dead]


So you're saying that high fructose corn syrup is not in fact high in fructose? Perhaps you could address the linked study from the article, which found fructose:glucose proportions in sweetened beverages to the be in a ~60:40 ratio rather than ~50:50. The full paper is available at the link with no paywall, so feel free to point out how you consider it deficient. Also, I can see for myself that Lustig is not obese. Perhaps you would care to cite some of these 'real nutriotionists'.


The etymology of the "high" in HFCS is from a comparison to plain corn syrup, which has little or no fructose (it's processed to make HFCS, glucose is enzymatically converted to fructose).


True, that was a cheap shot - but my argument rests on the numbers.


Nutrition doesn't work like that- there are too many variables. It could be something that fruit juice has and soda doesn't, it could be a confluence of factors that require lateral thinking.


Many fruit juices have potassium, which should help with heart health by counteracting the too much sodium we eat. Not sure why it would have any effect on telomeres though.


>too much sodium we eat.

I thought sodium was coming back into style in the latest nutrition fads.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2013/05/15/183883415/eating...

https://www.google.com/search?q=low+salt+diet+bad


From what I've heard, low salt is bad, but there is still an ideal potassium to salt ratio.


The sugar is causing the damage. Some studies also show some types of fruit juice being damaging, filtered juice being less healthy than unfiltered ones for example.

One quote from Wikipedia on the issue

"The total state of oxidative and peroxidative stress on the healthy body, with the AGE-related damage to it, is proportional to the dietary intake of exogenous (preformed) AGEs and the consumption of sugars with a propensity towards glycation such as fructose and galactose."


Would it be too far of a stretch to say that sugar->glucose->ATP conversion process is similar to nuclear fusion, with antioxidants being somewhat protective of the brittling/damage the process causes?



That's also in diet and non-carbonated sugary sodas; it's used as a preservative in just about everything.


Maybe it's two compounds in combination? HFCS plus caffeine perhaps? Pure speculation of course.


Could be any number of things including a correlated behavior that they were unable to account for.


> It's nice to have another datapoint against some of the bro-sciencey "Fruit juice has as much sugar as soda" arguments.

Go careful, that's not all broscience. Children especially should not have undiluted fruit juices.


> not have undiluted fruit juices

Why? (with links if you can - thanks)


dental hygiene and creating good habits.

Tooth removal is an avoidable problem, but a significant cause of hospitalised children in England.

http://www.child-smile.org.uk/parents-and-carers/birth-to-3-...

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/10964323/Tooth-...

> Almost 26,000 primary school children were treated for tooth decay in the past year, making it the most common reason youngsters are admitted to hospital, research shows.

> Nearly 500 children aged five to nine were hospitalised due to rotten teeth each week in 2013-14.


It's also a serious issue in New Zealand. It's exacerbated by children running around with sippy cups which allow constant contact between teeth and juice (or worse, sugary drinks).


[dead]


With the avalanche of evidence showing negative health impacts from sugar, it's surprising to see someone defending its use.

http://www.daijiworld.com/news/news_disp.asp?n_id=263708

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/11128706/Fruit-...

There was another recent story showing cultures that had no access to sugar and had a negligible amount of tooth decay; but I can't find the link just now.


[dead]


You are wrong and you should declare your weird shilling for the sugar industry.

http://www.child-smile.org.uk/parents-and-carers/birth-to-3-...

> Small amounts of pure, unsweetened fruit juice should be diluted half and half (50% juice to 50% water), or with a greater proportion of water to juice if your child is thirsty.

> Juice should be restricted to mealtimes only in a free-flow cup, not a feeding bottle.


I only drink diluted juice because it's what I was raised to drink. Pure juice, especially the grape variety, is far too sweet by itself.


Castigating someone for shilling for the sugar industry in the context of unsweetened fruit juice makes no sense. The guidelines you cite are obviously infants and toddlers. I suspect the poster above is thinking of more active older children. Accusing him/her of being a paid PR person is unjustified and unnecessary.


Do a search - the poster frequently recommends adding refined sugar to the diet; and responds to requests for cites with abuse. In this thread they've called citing your claims as "a game for retards".

The poster holds a view which is so weird it may as well be shilling. (And I say this as someone who has said that Lustig advocates go too far).


I stand corrected :-/


It is for these reasons we should ban breast feeding. Human breast milk has a sugar content higher than ice cream! It is obviously unsafe for babies to be exposed to so much sugar.


Breast-fed infants don't typically have exposed teeth subject to tooth decay, do they?


Sure they do. Not when they are first born, but later on. Source: Father of four kids who were still nursing when they had teeth.


On the other hand, it's not really a problem if a kid's milk teeth go bad. They quickly get replaced.


Yikes!

I honestly can't tell if you're being sarcastic or serious.

Childhood obesity is a serious issue. Heck, even type-2 childhood diabetes is a growing concern.

Do you have any support at all to justify this claim?


[dead]


Flagged for "retards".


    No significant associations were observed between
    consumption of diet sodas or noncarbonated SSBs and 
    telomere length.
I don't understand how the carbonation can have an effect. It's just CO2 and a little bit of H2CO3, neither of which is metabolized.


The results probably vary due to the different classes of beverages, it's not like they make a Coke Zero-Carbonation.

I'm actually having a hard time coming up with non-carbonated sugar-sweetened beverages as I don't drink any, but I'm picturing stuff like Honest Tea or those Starbucks Frappuccino things.


> non-carbonated sugar-sweetened beverages

Bottled "tea" seems the right kind of thing.

Common in the UK are sweetened fruit juice drinks. Obvious examples are Sunny D and J2O, but there are also plenty of drinks sold in very similar packaging to pure fruit juices, which are actually diluted and sweetened (with sugar). They have to say "juice drink" on the label.


"Juice Drink" e.g. http://www.welchs.com/products/chillers-juice-drinks, sweetened teas, and lemonade are pretty common. Hawaiian Punch is available in many soda machines.


The Arizona, Gatorade, and Snapple brands would be appalled. SoBe, too.

(I'm not a huge fan of carbonation, except, oddly, for pineapple-flavored drinks. But mostly I just don't get why you'd want to take a perfectly good drink and add pain to it.)


I wonder what would happen with half fruit juice, half carbonated water.


You are proposing an experiment that would be almost impossible to run.

Little if any nutrition research is actually run like a traditional science experiment (i.e. do something specific and observe results). Unfortunately outside of the prison camps on North Korea it is impossible to control the diet (or behaviors) of enough people for long enough to get useful results.

Instead we observe people uncontrolled behavior (almost never directly but through questionnaires) then observe health outcomes (usually not directly) or in this case something (telomere length) believed to be associated with health outcomes. Attempts are then made to adjust for all these potential problems using additional data (usually questionnaires) - usually difficult to say how effective.

These neccesary compromises introduces a whole host of potential problems that have contributed to all the confusion over what is good/bad nutrition. I've given up on having much confidence in medical research until it is repeatedly confirmed in additional studies - which may never happen.


Not at all. I'm wondering what the effect of my family's usual dinner drink is. We have (mostly) unsweetened fruit juice mixed half and half with carbonated water. The only sweetened juices tend to be lemonade or a cranberry mix.


Given that the effects were not seen in diet soda, it's fair to discount the possibility that carbonation plays a role. Since fruit juice has a mild lengthening effect, it might be minimally positive.


The effect were also not seen in sweetened non-carbonated beverages, so it must be some interaction between the sweetening and the carbonation.


I would be careful with words like "must" when there are this many variables involved. It could be fiber, the types of sugar, etc. We do know that carbonation alone isn't causing this and fruit juice doesn't cause this.


Also, you can mix fruit juice 50/50 with water and it'll taste great (depending on thirst, possibly even better). This works with apple juice and OJ[0], but really not with soda (I tried). Of course it helps that I live somewhere where the tap water tastes indistinguishable from bottled water.

Years ago, I was in Austria a lot, where it was a perfectly normal thing to order "Apfelsaft mit Leitungswasser" (apple juice with tap water). Which you'd get for the regular price of an apple juice, in a twice as big glass, that they'd top off with tap water.

[0] also, grapefruit.


> It's nice to have another datapoint against some of the bro-sciencey "Fruit juice has as much sugar as soda" arguments.

I was under the impression that this expression was used more with regard to dental health


Also, could someone comment on the effect size of b = -.001, which is within the 95% CI. Because if that translates into a day in a hundred years in "longevity" terms or something like that, than I wouldn't call the result "significant", even though the 0 is not technically crossed.


A p-value of 0.04 is not very strong evidence of an effect, though it is significant at the 0.05 level. This study says at most that the effect should continue to be studied.


Poor people do prison time and hard drugs more often (both of which might shorten a telomere). I also expect that physically measurable psychological stress is worse for poor (than for type-A work-stress junkies - probably that's more eustress due to control).


how do carbonated sugary drinks become less safe than non carbonated sugary drinks if carbonated non sugary drinks are safe?

It seems there is a missing item somewhere.


Looks like its the carbonation?


Not to mention it can cause diabetes and it's horrible for your teeth. For me, it also caused acne. Soda's really, really bad for you, and I think at this point it would be viewed the same way that smoking is viewed if it weren't for the fact that soda affects only the consumer whereas cigarettes produce second-hand smoke and a suffocating odor that fills the room.

Maybe 2050's Mad Men will shock its viewers with how office workers in 2000 drank soda in the office.

(This is coming from someone who used to drink soda on a daily basis. I learned to stop when I had to get a crown on a molar in my early 20s.)


I had a serious dental incident about 20 years ago due to both massive soda/sugar intake and not taking care of my teeth. I bit into a candybar and almost passed out due to the pain. Trip to the dentist: 12 cavities which I got filled in three long and painful visits. Eating candy was actually pretty unusual for me already, but I never drank soda again... or those damn Lance crackers I ate all the time.


I don't like anecdotes like this because it is so reliant on genetics alongside maintenance.

I'm in my 30s now, and I've never had a cavity despite awful habits from childhood to my mid-20s. While I drink much less soda pop now, I still have too much. My wife on the other hand, seems to get cavities the moment her teeth touch a Skittle, even though she had better parents and better habits in adulthood.

Some of us are lucky, some of us aren't. But taking care of your teeth can't hurt, and can only extend the time you have with them.


It's an anecdote, and the details rely on genetics, but it's hard science that tons of sugar sticking to your teeth all day is very bad for them. Some people might be much more resistant to cavities and decay, but that doesn't change the fundamentals of the risk and the fact that most people aren't so lucky.

Also, for what it's worth, cavities don't always present with obvious symptoms like pain. Well, they are obvious, but often only to dentists/trained professionals, and x-rays may sometimes be necessary to be totally sure.


Well in these last 20 years I have had two cavities and a crown. It's pretty clear that a) I just didn't take care of my teeth and b) drank a ton of soda and ate too much junk food (though my junk food was mostly pretzels and crackers). I take good care of them now and haven't had that junk since.


Wow, rsl7, you gave your dentist a new yacht! Tough break there. Fortunately, research is proceeding on modeling new teeth from stem cells that eventually may help us all have natural, whole teeth again. They'll probably still do fillings for the small stuff, though.


>I think at this point it would be viewed the same way that smoking is viewed if it weren't for the fact that soda affects only the consumer whereas cigarettes produce second-hand smoke and a suffocating odor that fills the room.

And the addiction, don't forget that horrible, crippling addiction.


Soda has addictive properties. Caffeine being one but I would argue there's carb/sugar addiction potential in there too (look up carb withdrawal).

Now I'm NOT saying it's even close to being as addictive as nicotine, but you get my point.


Probably we're programmed to love sweet stuff, because of the symbiotic relationship between plants and seed eaters. We eat the fruit and spread the seeds.

Unfortunately, sugary drinks trigger the instinct but have no beneficial effects, and they lack the phytonutrients of fruit and honey. We should just never drink or eat anything that is sweetened with either sugar or non-sugar alternatives. Easy to say and hard to do, though; I love sweet coffee, cake, and ice cream.


Any substance that produces a rush of good feelings will cause cravings or "withdrawal" to one degree or another when you stop consuming it. Based on observations I would say that for some people, sugar/soda is as addictive as nicotine or maybe more so.


This might be dependent on the person as well. I know that when I stopped drinking soda 2 years ago, I got cravings for about 9 months afterwards.

When I quit smoking 6 years ago, I did not have any cravings. I realize that this is anecdotal and goes against the experience of most people.


Caffeine addiction is a thing, too.


It's hard for me to understand the whole soda phenomenon in Canada and the US. Is it as addictive as cigarettes? Does it make you crave for more? Or it simply tastes so good that you can't get enough of it? Why not eat a bunch of apples instead (if you don't care about the amount of sugar you consume)? Wouldn't they taste better?


For some people, it seems to be. I suspect part of the issue is how abundantly available it is. For example, you go to the theater, and you can either buy a single bottle of water, or a cup of soda with free refills. Many restaurants offer only local tap water as a water choice, which varies in good taste. Lots of vending machines offer only soda, no water, again leaving the water-drinkers to search for a hopefully-clean, hopefully-not-too-bad-tasting drinking fountain.

I'm not saying you can't avoid soda if you try -- I rarely drink it myself -- but the culture seems to basically throw it in your face as the standard beverage of choice.


Even at the workplace, many offices offer unlimited free soda as a perk. I almost never touch the stuff and would love to have access to healthier options. I haven't seen a single job posting featuring regularly stocked fresh fruit as an incentive.


I worked for a company that offered regularly stocked (every day) fresh fruit. Food of pretty much any kind was available if you made the request. It wasn't advertised in job listings, though.


>Even at the workplace, many offices offer unlimited free soda as a perk.

Is that still true? I know Microsoft did it in the early years, but that was a long time ago.


yes. Along with milk, canned carbonated water (Talking Rain), and canned fruit juice.

The salad bars are fairly low cost too and feature stuff from local producers in Washington State, so A+ for that.

... but that's not going to stop you from filling your plate with cheese, fried chicken strips, ranch dressing, and then calling it a salad.


It's definitely true in the SFBay Area.. They might not advertise it explicitly, but most offices I've visited have free soda. The more progressive (or better funded?) ones have other better options too like Odwalla or Naked Juice.


Aren't those drinks full of sugar too? How much better than soda are they?


Yes. Free soda at work is still common at IT workplaces, my office has an entire fridge which is just for canned soda and gets restocked weekly.


Yes, employees at Microsoft have access to unlimited soda, milk, juice, etc.

Source: I work there.


I can't speak for other places, but certainly Dropbox has fresh squeezed juice available, in addition to smoothies, agua fresca etc.


> Many restaurants offer only local tap water as a water choice

Amusingly in my neck of the woods, my wife and I noticed a few years ago that most of the Korean restaurants had high-quality filtered water (some advertised local water stores, others we could just taste it).

Makes a huge difference IMHO - too bad more places don't offer good local filtered water - it's cheap and makes the food taste better.


Pretty sure it's mostly due to marketing and also vertically integrated markets. You can't get away from soft drink advertising in the US. And the stuff is literally everywhere. In many (most?) restaurants, your beverage choices comprise soda and water.

I would not be surprised at all if soda alone accounted for a double-digit percentage of the obesity rate.


It's the margins. Merchants will always push you to get soft drinks because that's where they get the biggest margin.


Exactly. Why would a movie theater, fast food chain, restaurant, or other place offer water as a default when they could sell you something with a 90% profit margin?


> [..] In many (most?) restaurants, your beverage choices comprise soda and water.

This reminds me that in Belgium there's a fast food chain with menus for which the cashier can't swap the soda for water.


This is true for a lot of US resturants (especially fast food) they don't have a button for water, instead they just ring up a soda, and fill it with water.


I think the majority of the cost is the packaging The concentrated soda and carbonation isn't free, but a tiny fraction of the cost of the cup, lid and straw.


My understanding was that restaurants in the US are required to provide free tap water. It may be a very small cup, but it should be available.


You get the water, but you can't take the price of the soda off the menu item.

Say you get a "Big Kahuna Combo" at $4.95 from some joint. The combo comprises a hamburger, a bag of fries and medium soda. Let's say the supermarket price for the same amount of soda is $.95 and the water cost is $1.95 (yes, more.) You'd think the restaurant would be able to swap the soda for a bottle of water and charge you $5.95 for the combo. But the way their combos are created (there are many, many reasons why the combos include a soda, such as soda companies subsidizing the cost of the soda for having soda as the default drink in the menu) doesn't allow for customization. In that case you'll have to pay the full value of the combo + $1.95 for the bottled water. Or get the same combo, for $4.95, but replacing the soda for tap water.

That's what the parent meant.


Given that some of the drinks are also caffeinated, many people drink them as an alternative to coffee or tea. In this sense they can become addictive.


I've never really gotten this - it's like smoking crack as an alternative to cigarettes. Tea and coffee actually have other things in them that are good for you, and you don't have to add sugar or cream to them, so there is no reason to drink soda for the caffeine.


I agree completely. I drink coffee and tea regularly and haven't had a drop of soda for years.


I have the same thoughts. I know folks that are suffering from diabetes, and they drink soda every time I eat with them. And that boggles my mind. It's like they can't bear the taste (or lack thereof) of water. Or they are addicted to soda.

After moving to the U.S, I had more soda than ever before in my life, and that actually made me not like them anymore. Can't drink more than couple sips.


For me it's not the sugar it's the caffeine. Also the taste and bubbles. But caffeine is a physical addiction that is literally painful to break.


How about switching over to tea or coffee? Both lack sugar and are full of anti-oxidants.


I've tried but they taste awful. Even if I get one of those sugary carmel chocolate starbucks things I can't get past the awful taste of the coffee. Ultimately I need to just quit caffeine but every time I end up back on the wagon.


There's this guy Tynan(tynan.com). He hated the taste of unsweetened tea too, but he made the switch by drinking copious amounts of green tea for two weeks until he had trained himself to enjoy it.

It could be worth a try.


Thinking about it, the only time I really drink soda right now is when I'm putting alcohol in it.

Infusing an apple with bourbon sounds... pretty interesting, actually, but probably more work than I'm willing to put into a post-work drink.


Heavy sugar consumption actually does cause dependency. You are genetically hard wired to crave fats and sugars, and refined sugar interacts with the reward centers in your brain in a manner somewhat similar to cocaine.


It's not just the sugar but also the caffeine and the carbonation. It's really a killer combination. I can't really comment on whether it's as addictive as smoking since I've never smoked, but I can say without the slightest doubt that soda addiction exists.

I was myself addicted to soda, and while I never experienced any sort of physical withdrawal symptoms (no headaches, no shaking, etc.), I did experience incredible cravings.

In certain parts of the US, soda is basically thrown in your face everywhere. Every restaurant serves soda as the main beverage. Every theater serves soda, and it's cheaper than the bottled water often and comes with free refills. Every gas station sells soda. Every office has a soda vending machine (or even just free soda altogether, like the one I work in). At lots of fast food places, if you want water, they won't even give you a full-sized cup -- they give you a tiny cup (though it's free) and then you have to hunt for a nearly hidden water tab on the fountain machine.


I'm definitely having a tough time with quitting sugar(candies). I get huge cravings right after lunch every day.


I drink (diet) soda because I need caffeine in the mornings. I am not a morning person and never have been. Without caffeine, I will not be mentally alert before 11am.

I hate the taste of coffee, so soda it is.


Search Amazon for penguin mints. I used them to wean off coffee as an experiment (now I drink coffee again these days). It takes about 3 penguin mints to equal one cola beverage.


Coffee is an acquired taste, not sure anyone likes it at first. Diet soda is just as bad for you as regular soda and has also been linked to diabetes and obesity.


> Coffee is an acquired taste, not sure anyone likes it at first.

If that were true, coffee would never have become a beverage anywhere.


How about tea?

Twice the caffeine of cola, but half the caffeine of coffee.


Caffeine pills.


A couple of factors that I can think of:

1) Sugar is addicting, and there is significantly more sugar in soda than other drinks [Google it]

2) Soda is very refreshing. This is important in warmer climates. If it is 98 degrees outside (37C), an orange Fanta does a much better job of making me feel better than just water

3) Soda is available everywhere and is the de-facto drink with most meals. Just like Italians drink wine with dinner, Americans have soda. This is perhaps the most important factor: If everyone is drinking soda, why wouldn't you?


So I Googled it. It seems to not be true, plenty of fruit juices beat coke for sugar content. Though it does seem to be more or less true for other non fruit juice drinks.

typical grape juice has 50% more sugar than Coca-Cola. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juice

Orange juice 170 calories from sugar vs 150 for cola (12 oz) http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/how-sweet-is-it/

Googling "sugar in apple juice" turns up 170 for 12 oz as well.


> 2) Soda is very refreshing. This is important in warmer climates. If it is 98 degrees outside (37C), an orange Fanta does a much better job of making me feel better than just water

This is entirely psychological, right? What about soda would make it more refreshing physically than water?


I think it's the carbonation. When I realized that's the part I really enjoyed, I started drinking seltzer water (and a lot of it, because I didn't get the uncomfortable feeling that sugary soda gave me.)


I was addicted to Diet Coke in the US (it was the only soft drink i enjoyed). Recently I moved to Thailand, and they do not carry Diet Coke but it turns out the satisfying feeling i was having was directly related to the high level of carbonation. I now have switched to drinking carbonated water.


the other weird thing is how hard it is to find carbonated seltzer in America... in Western Europe you basically trip over container loads of the stuff at every supermarket's entrance. Makes you wonder if carbonated seltzer is what might help change North American soda consumption habits


Really? Where in America?

In New York I've never had any problem finding seltzer. My parents buy it every time they go to the supermarket in upstate New York.

I'm trying to think of how common it is in corner stores. I can't say I've ever looked particularly hard for it. I used to keep my refrigerator in Buffalo stocked with the stuff though. It sure is refreshing.

Thankfully my work provides free cans of seltzer which I drink like water (heh heh!). Although I occasionally wish they would get the kind with a citrus fruit flavoring instead of just plain.


See if you can find squash/cordial, lemon flavour is usually best: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Squash_%28drink%29

When my parents took us on holiday to America my little brother refused to drink either plain water or fizzy drinks, but we found orange squash in the British section of a large supermarket.

As Wikipedia says, it's the default drink for British children. Adults who drink it probably pick a nicer product; my manager keeps a bottle of elderflower cordial in the cupboard.

I don't like making generalisations about Europe, but carbonated water is sold in every shop in Europe that sells bottled water. In some countries (e.g. Georgia), in smaller shops, you will only find carbonated water. In Germany it's what you get if you order "mineral water", you have to specify "still mineral water".


Florida...but maybe I am just surprised not to see 10 varieties at the entrance of each supermarket...it was just so prevalent and easy to find in Germany/Austria.


> in Western Europe you basically trip over container loads of the stuff at every supermarket's entrance

And restaurants in Europe can't seem to give you just plain water unless you specify. I spent my entire vacation being surprised by bubbles before getting what I wanted.


Costco carries seltzer, but only in 1L plastic bottles. It tends to be exceptionally cheap.


It's readily available in 24 packs in Massachusetts.


3) Soda is available everywhere and is the de-facto drink with most meals.

I don't remember the last meal I ate with adults where people ordered soda. It may be that every once in a while I'll be around a recovering alcoholic who orders a soda, but usually it seems they order something like sparkling water.

It's probably a regional/class thing, since I live in NYC. Maybe in the middle of the country or in a working class household you'd be more likely to see people drinking soft drinks with a meal?


It is definitely a class thing. You must be hanging out with the upper class, my friend.


Haha, working musicians are hardly upper class. Intelligentsia, maybe.


Maybe you just eat with a bunch of alcoholics?


Like most junk food its a habit you pick up as a child and continue without realizing just how awful it taste. Its sold & advertised everywhere which makes it hard to escape.


What are you drinking instead of soda in your country?


That question - in and by itself - gives you away as an American. As a central European who grew up on water, fruit juice (80-60% water thinned) and tea (green, herb and on and off black) it made me chuckle. I have never seen so much soda consumption anywhere on this planet before coming to the US.


America definitely drinks more soda than anyone else: http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/map_of_the_.... 3x as much as most central European countries.


Notwithstanding the golden "correlation != causation" adage, I found that only two things are truly consumed in much larger quantities in America than any other country I know: soda and high fructose corn syrup...at the same time being the only country with a 35% obesity rate...hmmmm


Oh really?

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/09/mexico-obesity_n_35...

Relevant numbers from the article:

US obesity rate: 31.8% Mexican obesity rate: 32.8%

Also, Mexican soda exclusively uses cane sugar. I buy Mexican Coke for the new times I drink regular soda for that reason.


Not true. Saudi Arabia is the most obese country on earth, at 70%.

Britain, Australia, and New Zealand are also substantially obese. All of those are coming increasingly close to catching America in obesity, with their obesity levels exploding higher.


Here's the latest data I know of on this:

http://www.socialprogressimperative.org/data/spi/components/...

The United States comes in at 8th highest obesity rate, after Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, the UAE, South Africa, and Mexico.


A lot of the "fruit juice" (in America, at least) contains just as much HFCS as soda.

I don't know if this is the case in the rest of the world or in this study though.


I'm fairly sure in the UK you can't legally call fruit juice with added sugar/sweeteners "juice" - it would have to be fruit drink or something


It's the same in the US ... except you can call it "juice drink" or "juice cocktail", which isn't very clear.


Wow that's weird, if I heard "juice cocktail" I'd think Mango and Orange or something. "Juice drink" is plain misleading.


Of the ~20 countries I've visited I think only the US had HFCS in the fruit juice. (It tastes funny/unfamiliar, so I notice.)

Instead they contain sugar, natural or added, and about as much as cola (~10%). The cola also has sugar instead of HFCS.


The US Government's vast, and continued, subsidization of corn is what led to the creation of HFCS. Makes sense, unfortunately, that the US would be drowning in it.


That's what we have regulations for ;-) Everything called "fruit juice" in the EU needs to be 100% juice (but it can be made from concentrate).


That's a good question. Back in the old country, people don't drink as much soda but they have another "drinking" problem--beer and hard liquor. That's much worse than soda, but it's a real addiction (alcoholism).

In the other country where I lived a big chunk of my life, they usually drink green tea.


uh, water?



Seriously though, some of the descriptions of culture of drinking soda in this thread make me think of that movie. For last 15 years I had soda maybe 10 times and it was usually like few sips. I just can't phantom a world where soda is what you drink when you are a thirsty or to meals. I don't remember people I eat out with ordering soda to their meals either. It's usually water, tea, coffee, sometimes fruit juice.


I drink far more Coke Vanilla Zero than could possibly be good for someone when at home, and yet when eating out I generally get iced tea with no sweetener. You may know a closet soda addict and not even realize it. :)


OT, but:

> I just can't phantom a world

I think you mean 'fathom' here. It uses the metaphor of something being too deep to measure.


I drink at least 24 fluid ounces of soda every day.

I've changed to Dr Pepper Ten instead of regular Dr Pepper though, so at least it's not as terrible for me.

20 calories vs 500 and 4g sugar vs 128g


My wife and I got a good laugh about this exact thing when I made that comment.


Marketing combined with willful ignorance.


I do both, like a maniac.

I'd say coke (I drink exclusively diet coke) is equally as addictive as cigarettes.

But the physical dependency is a bit more "dangerous" on coke, with cigarettes there's options to beat that (either have a puff of pot or your e-cig).

I don't think there's anything that can kill my craving of diet coke as much as diet coke.


Pretty sure nicotine is substantially more addictive than diet soda.


>Does it make you crave for more? Or it simply tastes so good that you can't get enough of it?

Yes to both.

>Wouldn't they taste better?

No? This seems like a pretty bizarre question. People eat what they like. If apples tasted better (to them, it is subjective obviously) then they would be eating apples. I like coke, so I drink coke. I do not like apples, so I do not eat apples (unless they are in pie form).


> No? This seems like a pretty bizarre question. People eat what they like.

While I generally agree, let's not discount the power of marketing, advertising and subliminal messaging.


Were these sodas sweetened with cane sugar or high-fructose corn syrup?

(I did look at the abstract of the actual paper, but it doesn't seem to specify. The full paper might say, but it's paywalled.)


I don't think it matters but chances are it's HFCS.


It matters.


I guess it matters because it might actually prove our bodies handle HFCS and Sugar differently. I have never seen that proven anywhere else.


If you want an actual scholarly article rather than a youtube video, here is one (especially useful are the figures on page 6):

http://www.sugar.org/cra-lawsuit/wp-content/uploads/relevant...


Of course our bodies handle HFCS and "sugar" differently. There are about a dozen types of common simple sugars and all of them are handled differently because they are different molecules.

Here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBnniua6-oM


Straw-man. The relevant question is whether or not HFCS is significantly worse than sucrose.


Are there any studies that associate telomere length with actual organism longevity in primates?


Just in case anyone was wondering about diet soda...

"Only the sugary, bubbly stuff showed this effect. Epel didn’t see any association between telomere length and diet soda intake. "


There are studies that link Diet Soda to other vascular risks. http://www.miami.edu/index.php/news/releases/study_finds_pos...

There are also studies emerging which link artificial sweeteners to Diabetes. http://www.theguardian.com/science/2014/sep/17/artificial-sw...


I think its generally understood that most artificial sweeteners are seen as sugar by the body, but don't actually get turned into sugar in the bloodstream. So it makes sense that it might contribute to diabetes (your body digests it like sugar), but not aging (which is accelerated by sugar in the bloodstream). I believe the whole point of coke 0 is that it doesn't use an artificial sweetener? But don't quote me on that last sentence.


Coke Zero definitely uses Aspartame

Source: The can I'm drinking right now.


Coke Zero for the US market still uses aspartame, the same sweetener used in Diet Coke.

Coke Zero is a more modern formulation which is supposed to taste more like "classic" Coke than Diet, which has its own distinctive "artificial" flavor which some customers have become accustomed to. It's also marketed very squarely towards young men: during the recent "Share a Coke with X" campaign, there was even a "Share a Coke Zero with a BRO" can, which made me laugh a bit.


In the UK at least we have 'Share a Coke with a Mate' which I guess is our equivalent.


There's also a Coke Zero Splenda version that substitutes Splenda for aspartame, but it's a separate product from the normal Coke Zero.


I could be wrong, but I thought Coke Zero was just the name for Diet Coke with Sucralose instead of Aspartame.


As the others have said, Coke Zero contains aspartame. However, it also contains acesulfame potassium which is another sweetener, so it may have a little less aspartame than Diet Coke. (The effect of multiple sweeteners is generally greater than an equivalent larger dose of one... or so I have... read. Maybe. In something somewhere. No promises.)


They seem to have gone back and forth, and more it varies by country.

My experience in Sweden was that first they with big fanfare changed Coke Light (what they call Diet coke outside of English-speaking countries) to Sucralose, then introduced Coke Zero, which used Sucralose and silently changed Coke Light back to Aspartame, and then at some point silently also changed Coke Zero to Aspartame.


There's a version of Diet Coke sweetened with Splenda, but Coke Zero is sweetened with aspartame just like regular Diet Coke. The Splenda Diet Coke isn't bad, but it does taste a little different than normal Diet Coke or Coke Zero. Look for the Diet Coke cans with a yellow label to find the Splenda version.


I thought so too but if you look at the ingredients they both use aspartame.


Right yes, but not in this particular study


Since she finds a strong shorter-telomere association in neither equally sweet juices NOR in diet soda, this result probably just unhealthy-lifestyle-correlation (e.g. drug addicts and undiagnosed diabetics drink more soda). Also, “The extremely high dose of sugar that we can put into our body within seconds by drinking sugared beverages is uniquely toxic to metabolism” (from her Time interview) seems an overreach. A properly functioning metabolism can handle some sugar, even in a spike.


Sugar can increase aging, see for example this for starts

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advanced_glycation_end-product


Since longer telomere's may give you brain cancer we should all avoid 100% fruit juice and drink more non-diet soda!

http://www.ucsf.edu/news/2014/06/114956/longer-telomeres-lin...

Better yet ignore these preliminary and contradictory results until we actually understand what is actually going on.


Wait is this the smoking gun to corn syrup?

Because "sugar sweetened sodas" don't exist or are rare, at least not in the USA. They are actually corn-syrup sweetened.

Especially since real sugar filled fruit juices did not have the same effect nor diet soda with no corn-syrup.


This is not a criticism of this study, but I do want to observe that "aging" has a very specific meaning here, and it does not really just mean "harmful."

Aging causes things in your body to fail.

Smoking, also, causes things in your body to fail, regardless of and unrelated to whether it causes "aging."

(Anecdotally, as a person who has gone both through periods of heavy soda [here in the midwest, "pop"] consumption and who has been a pack-a-day smoker, there are orders of magnitude of difference in the effects on general health.)


aging = rate of damage / rate of repair

Some damage is intrinsic, caused by free radicals, wrongly transcribed DNA, misfolded proteins etc.

Some damage is caused by external factors like sunlight (skin damage), sugar, smoking, pollution, radiation etc.

Things that increases damage increases aging and things that decreases rate of repair also increases aging.

Exercise increases rate of repair and slows aging in that way, while sitting still all day decreases the rate of repair and thus increases aging.

You seem to think that aging is only the intrinsic damage, but in many cases the type of damage that happens can be the same and external factors can increase the intrinsic damage that happens continuously. Some of this damage will decrease cellular repair mechanisms and thus decrease the rate of repair and you get a vicious cycle, external damage like having a hand chopped of doesn't really influence cellular repair, but smoking and sugar intake do influence cellular repair in a negative way and can thus be said to accelerate aging.


I don't see anyone discussing that this is based on the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). NHANES is all self-reported data meaning its accuracy isn't great. It's a decent way of looking for potential research topics but is in no way definitive.

Any papers coming from NHANES data should be considered pre-research. Real data on this topic will come from properly controlled studies.


What about something like carbonated cranberry juice? I mix 1 part low-carb Trader Joe's cranberry juice and 4 parts carbonated water, and drink about 20 oz a day. When I first started, it tasted tart and not sweet. I don't think there's much sugar in it.

If it's as harmful, I'd definitely give it up.


Articles with may, could, etc basically don't say anything else but,

'We want some attention for our article now, but do not shoot us if it turns out to be completely bogus. But if we were right, we want to be seen as awesome researchers, bringers of news etc'.


All I want to know is if I can drink a diet coke a day with impunity.


Is anyone else seeing the website cut off at the bottom? There's no scroll bar, so I can't read beyond one screenfull.


What an odd website, does not allow scrolling if javascript isn't turned on.


Then turn it on...


clickbait title from TIME.

from tfa: > Only the sugary, bubbly stuff showed this effect. Epel didn’t see any association between telomere length and diet soda intake.


It's funny but one never hears about the ill effects of carrots. "They" only study stuff that's already assumed to be bad for you. Ever wonder why?


Probably because mass consumption of carrots isn't a top public health issue? If consumption of carrots rivaled that of soda I'd be willing to bet there would be more studies on it just the same as there are studies on various other foods such as red meat, egg cholesterol, fish oil, etc.


Actually mass consumption of carrots can cause your skin to develop an orange tint (seriously, not joking here).


Heh. My brother's wife was starting to look like an Oompa Loompa because of her carrot snacking habit. It was pretty funny, though it doesn't seem to have had any deleterious effect on her health.


Same with yams. It happened to my brother when we were kids.


How much of which jam did he eat and what did he look like? (colour/intensity)


Yam, not jam. As in sweet potatoes.


Yam, jam and sweet potatoes are three different things. See for example: http://homecooking.about.com/od/howtocookvegetables/a/sweetp...


In most parts of the US a sweet potato with soft orange insides is correctly called a "Yam" to differentiate it from the sweet potatoes with firm yellow insides.

Either name isn't great; it's neither closely related to the african yam, nor the common potato.


...and is being used by people who try to tan their skin.


Are you joking? I can't tell.


I sure hope so...


It's because of old-school research methods. They haven't yet developed a method which correlates any diet with any effect, so they have to look for correlations from a specific subset of data, which is assumed to return results.



aging per drink? per year? on average?




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