Nutrition in the News | Issue nº 6

Each month we are welcomed with new findings and somewhat questionable news on the field of health and nutrition. In this issue of Nutrition in the News, Harriet Smith, RD from surreydietitian.co.uk explains us the facts from fads in September's headlines.

Critical thinking and the thorough analysis of recent nutrition articles is what we want to bring you each month. Read below how soft drinks, dietary patterns, eating disorders and a cheeky glass of red wine can impact our overall health.

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Association Between Soft Drink Consumption and Mortality in Ten European Countries

A European study found that people who drank two or more glasses of soft drinks (including artificially-sweetened drinks) per day had a higher risk of all-cause mortality compared with those who drank one glass or less per day.

The study, which was conducted in more than 450,000 people from ten different countries, analysed data from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) cohort study. Participants were followed up for an average of more than 16 years from initial recruitment.

The researchers also found that drinking two or more glasses of artificially-sweetened soft drinks per day was positively associated with deaths from circulatory diseases. Additionally, drinking one or more glasses of sugar-sweetened soft drinks per day was found to be positively associated with deaths from digestive diseases.

It’s important to remember that association doesn’t infer causation; we need further randomised controlled trials in humans before we can conclude whether or not soft drinks are likely to be harmful to human health.

Vegetarian and Vegan Diets Linked to Lower Risk of Heart Disease and Higher Risk of Stroke

A new study of over 48,000 UK adults found that people who said they followed a vegetarian or vegan diet were less likely to develop heart disease during 18 years of follow-up. However, they were more likely to have a stroke.

The study, which was published in the British Medical Journal, calculated that for every 1,000 vegetarians in the study, there were 10 fewer cases of heart disease, but 3 more strokes, compared with meat eaters over a 10-year period. Pescetarians had a reduced risk of heart disease, but no difference in risk of stroke.

It’s important to be aware of the limitations of this study; observational studies do not mean that one variable (such as the type of diet) causes an outcome. Confounding factors could have also influenced the results.

The researchers believe that the lower risk of heart disease in vegetarians, vegans and pescetarians could be due to lower BMI, blood pressure and cholesterol levels. However, the reason why vegetarians had a raised risk of haemorrhagic stroke remains unclear and warrants further research.

Overall, this study does not provide evidence that you switch to or from a vegetarian/vegan diet. It’s possible to have a healthy and balanced diet regardless of whether or not you eat meat products.

British Teenager Blinded By Severe Nutritional Deficiencies Caused by an Eating Disorder

A recent case study about a UK teenager who was blinded due to severe nutritional deficiencies resulting from an eating disorder received widespread media coverage.

However many of the headlines were misleading and overlooked the fact that the teenager had a recognised eating disorder called Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder or ARFID.

Patients with ARFID are not simply “fussy eaters”. They avoid or restrict certain foods in their diet due to a variety of reasons including severe anxiety related to eating particular foods, sensory-based avoidance and/or low interest in food.

Evidence-based treatments for ARFID include cognitive behavioural therapy, exposure work, anxiety management and family therapy. Unfortunately, this individual didn’t get the medical attention required early enough, which led to a preventable case of blindness.

Despite what the headlines stated, this is an extremely rare and tragic case study which was the result of a severe eating disorder rather than “fussy eating”.

Red Wine Linked to Better Gut Health, Study Finds

A study from King’s College London (KCL) found that people who drank red wine had increased gut microbiota diversity (a marker of gut health) compared with non red wine drinkers. There was also an association between red wine drinkers and lower levels of obesity and “bad” cholesterol.

Researchers from the Department of Twin Research and Genetic Epidemiology at KCL explored the effects of different alcoholic beverages (beer, red wine, white wine and spirits) on the gut microbiome in 916 UK female twins.

The association between red wine drinkers and increased gut microbiota diversity was not observed with the other alcoholic beverages. The authors believe that the beneficial effects of red wine on gut health may be due to the polyphenols found in red wine.


If you haven't already, make sure to give a look at the Nutrition tag on our blog where you can catch up with the previous Nutrition in the News issues and also grab our nutrition guides for professional.

Please note that we do not share any particular side on any of these news headlines, our goal is simply to inform on what professionals and the news have been discussing about to keep you informed and deliver to you the information at the distance of one click.

Let us know what other sources you often go to for evidence-based analysis of the latest information about nutrition, and other topics that were highlighted recently.