WHO proposed guidelines not so sweet.

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Lustig: Sugar is toxic

  • The World Health Organization proposes new guidelines for sugar consumption
  • WHO says we should eat less than 5% of our total daily calories from sugars
  • For an adult with a normal BMI, 5% is around 25 grams of sugar
  • Of big concern is the role sugars play in causing dental diseases worldwide

The World Health Organization wants you to stop eating so much sugar. Seriously.

In draft guidelines proposed this week, WHO is encouraging people to consume less than 5% of their total daily calories from sugars. The organization’s current guidelines, published in 2002, recommend eating less than 10% of your total daily calories from sugars.

Most Americans still consume much more.

Our sweet tooth increased 39% between 1950 and 2000, according to the USDA. The average American now consumes about three pounds of sugar each week.

“There is increasing concern that consumption of free sugars, particularly in the form of sugar-sweetened beverages, may result in … an increase in total caloric intake, leading to an unhealthy diet, weight gain and increased risk of noncommunicable diseases,” WHO said in a statement.

 Sugar raises heart concerns

Sugar and fat: What’s worse?

Put down that sugar!

Of particular concern, WHO said, is the role sugar plays in causing dental diseases worldwide.

For an adult at a normal body mass index, or BMI, eating 5% would be around 25 grams of sugar — or six teaspoons. That’s less than is typically found in a single can of regular soda, which contains about 40 grams of sugar.

To find the amount of calories from sugar in a product, multiply the grams by 4. For example, a product containing 15 grams of sugar has 60 calories from sugar per serving, according to the American Heart Association. If you eat 2,000 calories a day, that’s 3%.

WHO’s proposed guidelines apply to sugars added to foods by manufacturers, as well as those found naturally in honey, syrups, fruit juices and fruit concentrates. They do not apply to those found in fresh produce.

“Much of the sugars consumed today are ‘hidden’ in processed foods that are not usually seen as sweets,” the WHO website states.

Did you know sugar is often added to your frozen pizza? How about your bread, soup, yogurt and mayonnaise? As consumers became more concerned about the amount of fat in their food, manufacturers went out of their way to make low-fat items — often substituting sugar to preserve the taste.

Choosing foods with fewer added sugars at the grocery story may soon get a little easier. The Food and Drug Administration has proposed several changes to the nutrition labels you see on packaged foods and beverages.

The proposed labels would also note how much added sugar is in a product. Right now, it’s hard to know what is naturally occurring sugar and what has been added by the manufacturer.

The WHO guidelines will be open for public comment until March 31. Then WHO will finalize and publish its recommendations.

Premature babies ‘disadvantaged’

Around 4,000 babies are born prematurely in Scotland every year

Children born prematurely may be disadvantaged for the rest of their lives by poor understanding of their needs, according to experts.

Paediatricians’ research has shown premature babies are more likely to have difficulties at school but few teachers are aware of this.

The number of children born prematurely is rising because women are having babies later in life.

Researchers say the education system should adapt to reflect this change.

They are calling for a child’s gestation to be recorded on their education records as a way of flagging up any problems.

‘Greater risk’

“We know from a Scottish study that the earlier you are born the more likely you are to have have problems at school”, said Glasgow paediatrician Dr Nashwa Matta.

“But these children may still be clever and the problems don’t appear until the workload increases at primary or secondary school.”

Children born prematurely are more likely to be emotionally immature, lonely and at greater risk of bullying.

They may have visual perception issues, including difficulties with numbers and mathematics.

Lorraine and Findlay
Lorraine says believes ‘pre-term’ health could be taken more seriously

Further traits of prematurely born children may include short memories, attention spans and problems with multi-tasking.

Some premature children are also disadvantaged if they are born at the end of the school year because they are effectively sent to school a year early.

If they had been born full term they would have gone to school the following year.

Around 4,000 babies are born prematurely every year in Scotland.

‘Behavioural issues’

Dr Matta has organised a one-day conference to highlight the issue at the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow.

“The simplest thing to do is to put child’s gestation on their school entry form,” said Dr Matta.

Then, when a teacher has a child with difficulty with attention, certain work, and memory then they will know he’s born prematurely and can find out what can be done so gap doesn’t get bigger.”

Three-year-old Findlay Masterton was born three months early. His mum Lorraine is worried he won’t be able to cope when he goes to school.

“He has behavioural issues, there’s a strict regime of how he likes things done,” she said.

She added: “Findlay has different wee issues that a kid born full term wouldn’t have and I think these might show up when he goes to school next year.

“There’s nothing stated for schools that they have to do anything about this or give them extra time for their lessons.

“Schools recognise medical problems, but pre-term? I don’t think it’s taken seriously enough.”

The Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) backed the call for tailored support for children with additional support needs.

An EIS spokesperson said: “Teachers and other education professionals working in our schools are aware of the broad range of additional support that is sometimes needed to allow all children to benefit fully from their education.

“There is a requirement for continuing investment in adequate ASN resources in all schools, and for teachers and other professionals to have access to ongoing professional development to ensure that they can continue meeting the particular needs of all pupils.”

Warning over hospital superbug rise


Klebsiella Pneumoniae
Nationwide research is being carried out into Klebsiella and its resistance to antibiotics

Sixteen people have died in Manchester in the past four years while infected with a highly resistant superbug, figures show.

Klebsiella pneumoniae carbapenemase (KPC) is causing increasing concern and a rising number of cases.

Some 1,241 patients were affected within the Central Manchester University Hospitals trust area from 2009 to 2013, the figures show.

Despite infection control, the numbers have increased year on year.

The figures, revealed in a Freedom of Information request by the BBC, found 62 patients so far have suffered blood poisoning – with 14 confirmed deaths within 30 days of infection – at Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Two further deaths have occurred in the current year, the hospital trust confirmed.

KPC, which causes urinary tract infections and pneumonia in sick patients, is resistant to carbapenems, the last major group of antibiotics to work against multidrug-resistant bacteria.

The trust said the chemical, an enzyme, that KPC uses to render antibiotics ineffective had now entered other bacteria, including E. coli and Enterobacter.

“This trust has and continues to make strenuous efforts to control and reduce this infection. We continue to work very closely with Public Health England at both a local and national level to develop solutions for the long-term management of patients,” it said.

The trust stated that all the patients who had died were seriously ill. Some had diabetes, kidney problems or transplant rejection; some were suffering from leukaemia or other forms of cancer.

Central Manchester Hospitals has already had to review guidelines on antibiotics and the treatment of patients who require bowel surgery or cancer treatment that may leave their immunity compromised.

‘Extremely unlucky’

Another Manchester hospital, the Christie, a specialist in cancer care, said nine patients had been colonised by KPC last year. but they had all been transferred to the cancer unit and there had been no cross-infection in the hospital.

A Freedom of Information request has also revealed two cases of KPC at New Cross Hospital in Wolverhampton, with one patient dying in the past two years.

Scientists say more research is needed into treating the KPC superbug

Microbiologist Dr Mike Cooper said that the patient who died was 96 and the form of KPC that had infected her was still susceptible to some drugs.

“There’s a huge element of luck in this. Either Manchester has been extremely unlucky or we have been extremely lucky not to have more cases,” he said.

Ten patients have also been infected at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire. Two had urinary tract infections, but neither patient died of blood poisoning.

Stoke’s microbiologist, Jeorge Orendi, said: “Unlike the situation in certain hospitals in Manchester and London, fortunately in our hospital and catchment area carbapenemase producers have remained rare to date.”

The KPC resistance mechanism first emerged in the US and spread to Israel. In Europe, it has taken hold in Greece and has reached epidemic proportions in Italy.

Gian Maria Rossolini, of the University of Siena, said that the first case was identified in Italy in 2008, but now 4% of all infections in Italy are resistant to carbapenems.

Aids epidemic

Dr Rossolini said deaths from blood infections were running at more than 40%, but for immune-compromised patients they could be as high as 80%.

Although KPC is still susceptible to an old and quite toxic antibiotic, colistin, in Florence this year more than 50% of KPC cases proved resistant to it.

“Although present in the UK, the problem seems to be still much more limited as compared to Italy and Greece,” he said.

Professor Laura Piddock, of Birmingham University, said: “It’s clear that what has gone on in Italy is our tomorrow. We have got to start preserving what we have got and use it wisely.

“If we are really serious about tackling this problem, we have to start viewing this in the same way as high-income countries viewed the Aids epidemic in the 90s.

Prof Peter Hawkey
Prof Peter Hawkey is mapping the spread of KPC across the country

“It’s going to take that sort of level of global policymaker decision-making to really tackle this issue properly.”

Research published in the Journal of Antibiotics found that colonisation with KPC is long-lasting, with 39% of patients still carrying KPC in their gut a year after being released from hospital.

In Birmingham, Prof Peter Hawkey is conducting nationwide research to identify the extent of KPC resistance and that of a more widespread, but slightly less virulent superbug, ESBL.

Patients in London, Southampton, Birmingham and Shropshire are being asked to send in faeces samples so the spread of the disease can be mapped.

Prof Hawkey said: “It makes sense whilst we are looking for these ESBL that we are also able to detect how many of these KPC organisms are in the community.

“I can conceive of techniques which may be able to make bacteria to kill these multidrug-resistant bacteria. It’s very much at an advanced research level at the moment, but in order to drive that, we need to know how big the problem is.”

Dr Rossolini said that the use of carbapenem antibiotics to control high levels of ESBL in the Midlands could actually help KPC take hold in the region.

Picasso drawing used in graphene art.

Artist Cornelia Parker has teamed up with a Nobel Prize-winning scientist to turn fragments of drawings by Picasso, Constable and Turner into a new artwork for Manchester’s Whitworth gallery.

Konstantin Novoselov, who won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2010, took tiny samples of pencil graphite from the drawings and turned them into graphene.

Parker will use the graphene in the venue’s reopening events in October.

The Whitworth is being extended in a £15m redevelopment.

Novoselov won the Nobel Prize with Andre Geim for their groundbreaking work on graphene, the thinnest, strongest known material, at the University of Manchester.

He worked with a conservator from the gallery to take “microscopic” samples from drawings from the Whitworth collection. They also used a drawing by William Blake and a letter written by nuclear physics pioneer Sir Ernest Rutherford.

The resulting graphene will be used to build an electronic sensor that is triggered by humidity.

Cornelia Parker, Cold Dark Matter: An Exploded View, 1991
Cornelia Parker’s Cold Dark Matter: An Exploded View will be in the exhibition

On the Whitworth’s reopening night on 25 October, Novoselov will breathe into the sensor, triggering a firework display designed by Parker to look like a meteor shower, inspired by William Blake’s painting The Ancient of Days.

The redeveloped gallery will also host Parker’s largest solo exhibition to date.

It will include her 1991 installation Cold Dark Matter; An Exploded View, which was ranked in the top 10 in a survey to find the most popular British artworks last year.

The 19th Century Whitworth gallery has been closed for redevelopment since last summer. By October, it will have a new extension and a sculpture garden that will double its public space.

Other artists whose work will feature in the relaunch exhibitions from 25 October will include Chinese-born Cai Guo-Qiang, Turner Prize winner Laure Prouvost, photographer Johnnie Shand Kydd and German artist Thomas Schutte.

Whitworth director Maria Balshaw said: “The opening programme, led by Cornelia Parker’s remarkable exhibition, captures the spirit of the Whitworth – a place where marvellous, eclectic art works connect to people and our place in Manchester.”