The American Heart Association (AHA) continues its assault on sugars by publishing a recent analysis of sweetened beverage intakes and their alleged effects on the risk of heart disease.

“The study design predetermined the published results,” Dr. Charles Baker, Chief Science Officer at the Sugar Association, explained. “Beverage intakes were arbitrarily divided into four groups. The first group was set at zero – no beverages consumed – while the intake of the fourth group was set at 6.5 beverages per week. However, intakes of this fourth group ranged from 4.5 beverages per week to 7.5 beverages per day.”

“This obvious data manipulation allowed the authors to report that those in the fourth group had a 20 percent higher risk of coronary heart disease. Comparing such extremes easily misleads consumers and as a result, provides little meaningful public health benefit,” Baker continued.

And by using the term “sugar-sweetened,” when in fact most colas in the United States are not sugar-sweetened but sweetened with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), the researchers and reporters are misleading consumers about the most basic details of the study even further.

It is also worth noting that the first of the three additional AHA resources highlighted in the press release endorse the findings of the recent article – not exactly an independent or balanced representation of the AHA position.

The Sugar Association has reported on scientific inconsistencies in previous AHA efforts to restrict sugar. But we’re not the only group who takes issue with AHA’s restrictive recommendations.

“The AHA limits mean most of us are prohibited from having a single can of soda on a hot summer day, a slice of cake at a party, and even a third of a cup of dried cranberries as a snack. “Just say no” won’t get us a slimmer and healthier America. Instead, I suggest the AHA put its muscle behind promoting physical activity,” University of California, Davis, Director of Sports Nutrition, Dr. Elizabeth Applegate wrote in a letter to the Wall Street Journal.

Among the foods the AHA thinks Americans should stop consuming:

To fight obesity and decrease risk of heart disease, we should focus on living healthier lifestyles in general – by reducing caloric intake and exercising more. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Americans are consuming 425 calories per person per day more than we did in 1970 (when the obesity crisis began). Making one food or beverage the sole target will only confuse consumers and add to the problem.

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