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Coca-Cola’s work with academics was a “low point in history of public health” | The BMJ

An analysis of thousands of emails has shown the extent to which Coca-Cola sought to obscure its relationship with scientists, minimise perception of its role, and use researchers to promote industry friendly messaging. The findings represented a “low point in the history of public health,” said one of the authors. Academics the UK and Italy worked with US Right to Know, an investigative public health and consumer group, to obtain and analyse more than 18 000 pages of email correspondence between the Coca-Cola Company, West Virginia University, and the University of Colorado.1 Both universities were part of a “front group” funded by Coca-Cola called the Global Energy Balance Network (GEBN), a global network of scientists1 said to have been created by Coke to downplay links between obesity and sugary drinks.2

Sugary drink tax models show health gains, cost reductions, but vary by tax design -- ScienceDaily

Boston researchers created a nationally representative microsimulation model to test three types of taxation on sugary drinks: a flat "volume tax" by drink volume ($0.01 per ounce), the only type used in U.S. cities to-date; a "tiered sugar content tax" by 3 levels of sugar content (ranging from $0.00 for less than 5 grams of added sugars per 8 ounces, to $0.02 per ounce of added sugars for more than 20 grams of added sugars per 8 ounces); and a "fixed sugar content tax" by absolute sugar content ($0.01 per teaspoon of added sugars, regardless of the number of ounces). Under the simulation scenario, the researchers found all three tax structures would generate tax revenue, lower health care costs and prevent cardiovascular disease events and diabetes cases. However, the tiered tax and sugar content tax could generate the largest health gains and cost savings. Any of the tax designs could be effective public health policy tools that may be able to reduce consumption of sugary drinks, and thus improve health and overall well-being, the researchers noted.

Coca-Cola Funds Scientists Who Shift Blame for Obesity Away From Bad Diets - The New York Times

“Coca-Cola’s sales are slipping, and there’s this huge political and public backlash against soda, with every major city trying to do something to curb consumption,” said Michele Simon, a public health lawyer. “This is a direct response to the ways that the company is losing. They’re desperate to stop the bleeding.” Coke has made a substantial investment in the new nonprofit. In response to requests based on state open-records laws, two universities that employ leaders of the Global Energy Balance Network disclosed that Coke had donated $1.5 million last year to start the organization.

Cells use sugars to communicate at the molecular level -- ScienceDaily

Using engineered synthetic cells as a model system, lead author Cesar Rodriguez-Emmenegger, a former member of Percec's group, now at Aachen, discovered a way to directly study cell membranes using a method called atomic force microscopy. This approach generates extremely high-resolution scans that reveal shapes and structures at a scale of less than a nanometer, nearly 10,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair. Percec's group then built a model that computes how the structural images relate to the cell's function. The study is the first example of a diffraction-like method that can be done on whole synthetic cells. Using this new method, Percec's group discovered that a lower concentration of sugars on a cell membrane's surface led to increased reactivity with proteins on the membranes of other cells.

Is soda bad for your brain? (And is diet soda worse?): Both sugary, diet drinks correlated with accelerated brain aging -- ScienceDaily

Now, new research suggests that excess sugar -- especially the fructose in sugary drinks -- might damage your brain. Researchers using data from the Framingham Heart Study (FHS) found that people who drink sugary beverages frequently are more likely to have poorer memory, smaller overall brain volume, and a significantly smaller hippocampus -- an area of the brain important for learning and memory. But before you chuck your sweet tea and reach for a diet soda, there's more: a follow-up study found that people who drank diet soda daily were almost three times as likely to develop stroke and dementia when compared to those who did not.

Insulin resistance may lead to faster cognitive decline: Executive function, memory are particularly vulnerable to the effects of insulin resistance, researchers say -- ScienceDaily

nsulin resistance is a condition in which cells fail to respond normally to the hormone insulin. The resistance prevents muscle, fat, and liver cells from easily absorbing glucose. As a result, the body requires higher levels of insulin to usher glucose into its cells. Without sufficient insulin, excess glucose builds up in the bloodstream, leading to prediabetes, diabetes, and other serious health disorders. The scientists followed a group of nearly 500 patients with existing cardiovascular disease for more than two decades. They first assessed the patients' baseline insulin resistance using the homeostasis model assessment (HOMA), calculated using fasting blood glucose and fasting insulin levels. Cognitive functions were assessed with a computerized battery of tests that examined memory, executive function, visual spatial processing, and attention. The follow-up assessments were conducted 15 years after the start of the study, then again five years after that. The study found that individuals who placed in the top quarter of the HOMA index were at an increased risk for poor cognitive performance and accelerated cognitive decline compared to those in the remaining three-quarters of the HOMA index. Adjusting for established cardiovascular risk factors and potentially confounding factors did not diminish these associations.

Is a sexually transmitted yeast infection making people mentally ill? | Science | News | The Independent

“Because Candida is a natural component of the human body microbiome, yeast overgrowth or infection in the digestive tract, for example, may disrupt the gut-brain axis.  “This disruption in conjunction with an abnormally functioning immune system could collectively disturb those brain processes that are important for memory.”

Systems Nutrigenomics Reveals Brain Gene Networks Linking Metabolic and Brain Disorders - EBioMedicine

Meng et al. report fructose as a powerful inducer of genomic and epigenomic variability with the capacity to reorganize gene networks critical for central metabolic regulation and neuronal processes in the brain; conversely, an omega-3 fatty acid, DHA, has the potential to normalize the genomic impact of fructose. Our findings help explain the pathogenic actions of fructose on prevalent metabolic and brain disorders and provide proof-of-concept for nutritional remedies supported by nutrigenomics evidence. Our integrative approach complementing rodent and human studies supports the applicability of nutrigenomics principles to predict disease susceptibility and to guide personalized medicine.

Sugar can cause brain damage, claim scientists (but salmon reverses it)

The scientists fed a group of rats for six weeks with fructose-spiked water (the equivalent to about a litre of soft drinks a day for humans). Then they put them in a maze, alongside rats which had drank only water. The rats which had consumed fructose took twice as long to navigate the maze as the water-only group, despite the same level of training - suggesting that their memories had been impaired.
As students began receiving white-noise blasts after “losses”, they retaliated, as any frustrated person might do, and tried to return the favor to their opponent by matching the white-noise assault. Interestingly, researchers found that when students were provided with a sugar-substitute lemonade (no glucose) they were more aggressive, providing louder and longer noise blasts, than if they drank the lemonade with sugar. Feeling agitated? Have a glass with glucose and chill out!
Using Organismal Performance Assays—in which mice fed human-relevant concentrations of added sugar (25% kcal from a mixture of fructose and glucose, modeling high fructose corn syrup) and control mice compete in seminatural enclosures for territories, resources and mates—we demonstrate that fructose/glucose-fed females experience a twofold increase in mortality while fructose/glucose-fed males control 26% fewer territories and produce 25% less offspring.