Future

New Study: Diet Soda May Cause More Diabetes Than Regular Soft Drinks

LES ECHOS (France)

Worldcrunch

PARIS - A new French study has found that the risk of diabetes may actually increase more with the consumption of diet or light soft drinks than with sugary ones.

Researchers at Inserm, the French biomedical and public health research institution, followed the health and consumption habits of 66,188 women since 1993, with the objective to track the link between sugary drinks and type 2 diabetes, the most common form of the disease.

It was thought that drinking light drinks would reduce the risk of diabetes. But in results presented Thursday in Paris, the study found that the risk of diabetes is actually higher when drinking light drinks than with sugary drinks, French business daily Les Echos reports.

The study, to be published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, shows that women who consume light drinks have a higher consumption rate than those consuming normal sugary drinks (2.8 glasses/week vs. 1.6 glasses/week in average). Moreover, even when consumed in equal quantities, light drinks are associated with an increased risk of developing diabetes: a 15% higher chance for a consumption of 0.5 liters/week and 59% for 1.5 liters/week.

In order to know if the risk is only associated with light drinks, researchers Françoise Clavel-Chapelon and Guy Fagherazzi compared their effects to those produced with pressed fruit juices, but found no direct association with developing the disease.

Fagherazzi said further study is still needed. “We still need a body of evidence," he said, according to Les Echos. "We are not here to say that people need to stop drinking this or this type of drink.”

Among the mechanisms that might explain this phenomenon, they note that sugars contained in sugary drinks cause a spike in insulin and the repetition of such can produce resistance to insulin, an anomaly that causes diabetes. As for aspartame, one of the principal sweeteners used today, it can cause a high glycemic level (spike in blood glucose), and thus an increase in insulin levels, comparable to those caused by sucrose (sugar).

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Green

In Argentina, A Visit To World's Highest Solar Energy Park

With loans and solar panels from China, the massive solar park has been opened a year and is already powering the surrounding areas. Now the Chinese supplier is pushing for an expansion.

960,000 solar panels have been installed at the Cauchari park

Silvia Naishtat

CAUCHARI — Driving across the border with Chile into the northwest Argentine department of Susques, you may spot what looks like a black mass in the distance. Arriving at a 4,000-meter altitude in the municipality of Cauchari, what comes into view instead is an assembly of 960,000 solar panels. It is the world's highest photovoltaic (PV) park, which is also the second biggest solar energy facility in Latin America, after Mexico's Aguascalientes plant.

Spread over 800 hectares in an arid landscape, the Cauchari park has been operating for a year, and has so far turned sunshine into 315 megawatts of electricity, enough to power the local provincial capital of Jujuy through the national grid.


It has also generated some $50 million for the province, which Governor Gerardo Morales has allocated to building 239 schools.

Abundant sunshine, low temperatures

The physicist Martín Albornoz says Cauchari, which means "link to the sun," is exposed to the best solar radiation anywhere. The area has 260 days of sunshine, with no smog and relatively low temperatures, which helps keep the panels in optimal conditions.

Its construction began with a loan of more than $331 million from China's Eximbank, which allowed the purchase of panels made in Shanghai. They arrived in Buenos Aires in 2,500 containers and were later trucked a considerable distance to the site in Cauchari . This was a titanic project that required 1,200 builders and 10-ton cranes, but will save some 780,000 tons of CO2 emissions a year.

It is now run by 60 technicians. Its panels, with a 25-year guarantee, follow the sun's path and are cleaned twice a year. The plant is expected to have a service life of 40 years. Its choice of location was based on power lines traced in the 1990s to export power to Chile, now fed by the park.

Chinese engineers working in an office at the Cauchari park

Xinhua/ZUMA

Chinese want to expand

The plant belongs to the public-sector firm Jemse (Jujuy Energía y Minería), created in 2011 by the province's then governor Eduardo Fellner. Jemse's president, Felipe Albornoz, says that once Chinese credits are repaid in 20 years, Cauchari will earn the province $600 million.

The Argentine Energy ministry must now decide on the park's proposed expansion. The Chinese would pay in $200 million, which will help install 400,000 additional panels and generate enough power for the entire province of Jujuy.

The park's CEO, Guillermo Hoerth, observes that state policies are key to turning Jujuy into a green province. "We must change the production model. The world is rapidly cutting fossil fuel emissions. This is a great opportunity," Hoerth says.

The province's energy chief, Mario Pizarro, says in turn that Susques and three other provincial districts are already self-sufficient with clean energy, and three other districts would soon follow.

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