Nutrition News: Sugary Drinks Are a Killer, Unhealthy Restaurant Food, When to Eat Bread

Sugary drinks are killing us, restaurant meals no healthier than fast food, why you should eat your bread last.


Brown soda in a clear glass

Photo by: Brent Hofacker

Brent Hofacker

Sugary Drinks Are Killing Us … Really

How bad are sugary drinks for us? On a global scale, their toll is staggering. According to a recent analysis of data from dozens of international dietary surveys and large-scale studies, published online in Circulation, sugar-sweetened-beverage consumption causes more than 184,000 deaths — about 133,000 deaths from diabetes, 45,000 from cardiovascular disease and 6,450 from cancer — worldwide every year. (Gulp.) In the United States alone, about 25,000 deaths annually are attributable to sugary drinks, The New York Times reports, noting that experts are calling for the elimination of sugary drinks from our food supply altogether.

More Reasons to Cook at Home
Splurging on a nice meal out at a fancy restaurant may seem like a lovely thing to do for yourself and your dining companion, but a new study has found that, in fact, eating at a restaurant may be just as unhealthy as eating at a fast-food joint. Yep. According to an analysis conducted at the University of Illinois, while those who ate at restaurants consumed more vitamins, potassium and omega-3 fatty acids and a bit less saturated fat than those who ate at fast-food chains, they also consumed more sodium and cholesterol. What’s more, those who ate out — either at a restaurant or at a fast-food establishment — took in significantly more saturated fat, more sodium, more cholesterol and more calories (about 200 more) than those who ate at home. “Eating at a full-service restaurant is not necessarily healthier than eating at a fast-food outlet,” the study’s lead author, Ruopeng An, concluded. “In fact, you may be at higher risk of overeating in a full-service restaurant than when eating fast-food." Uh … check, please?
Bread … for Dessert?

The key to curbing your appetite may as simple as saving the breadbasket for the end of the meal, rather than starting it with a heap of calories and carbs. A new (small, but compelling) study, published in the journal Diabetes Care, found that, when people were served bread at the end of the meal, instead of at the beginning, they were less prone to blood sugar spikes — and their appetite may have been tamped down a bit, too. "The worst situation is having refined carbohydrates on an empty stomach, because there's nothing to slow down the digestion of that carbohydrate into sugar," one weight expert not involved with the study explained to NPR. As for food order’s effect on appetite, "It could be that this helps people to maintain their weight loss by helping them to understand when to eat carbs so it won't rev up their appetite," said lead author Louis Aronne, of Weill-Cornell Medical College.

General Mills pursues egg-cellence

General Mills, which only weeks ago announced it was removing artificial flavors and colors from its cereals, is now letting the world know it plans to use only cage-free eggs for its U.S. operations as part of its new global animal welfare policy, which it worked with the Humane Society of the United States to develop. The move to 100 cage-free eggs will be completed in a “reasonable timeline,” the company said, though of course the current U.S. egg shortage may complicate matters, the Associated Press reports. General Mills, which counts Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, Progresso, Yoplait and Hamburger Helper among its brands, uses eggs in many of its products, although some, such as European-made Haagen-Dazs ice cream, use only free-range eggs – a step beyond cage-free.

Amy Reiter is a writer and editor based in New York. A regular contributor to The Los Angeles Times, she has also written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, Glamour, Marie Claire, The Daily Beast and Wine Spectator, among others, as well as for Salon, where she was a longtime editor and senior writer. In addition to contributing to Healthy Eats, she blogs for Food Network’s FN Dish .

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