World Bulletin / News Desk
Even relatively clean-living Singaporeans who regularly eat burgers, fries and other staples of U.S.-style fast food are at a raised risk of diabetes and more likely than their peers to die of heart disease, according to an international study.
But Asian fast foods, such as noodles or dumplings, did not bear the same risk, the study published in the journal Circulation said.
With globalization, U.S.-style fast food has become commonplace in East and Southeast Asia. The study looked at more than 60,000 Singaporeans of Chinese descent.
"Many cultures welcome (Western fast food) because it's a sign they're developing their economics," said Andrew Odegaard, from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, who led the study.
"But while it may be desirable from a cultural standpoint, from a health perspective there may be a cost," he told Reuters Health.
The study participants were interviewed in the 1990s, then followed for about a decade.
Participants were between 45 and 74 years old at the outset. During the study period, 1,397 died of cardiac causes and 2,252 developed type 2 diabetes.
Those who ate fast food two or more times a week had 27 percent greater odds of diabetes and 56 percent higher risk of cardiac death than those who ate little or no fast food, the researchers found.
Among 811 subjects who ate Western-style fast food four or more times a week, the risk of cardiac death rose by 80 percent.
The findings held even after the researchers adjusted for other factors that could influence health, including age, sex, weight, smoking status and education level.
In fact, the Singaporeans who ate Western fast food often were more likely to be younger, educated and physically active, and were less likely to smoke, than those who stuck to a more traditional diet.
Odegaard's team found that Eastern fast foods, such as dim sum, noodles and dumplings, were not associated with more cases of type 2 diabetes and cardiac deaths.
"It wasn't their own snacks that was putting them at increased risk, but American-style fast food," he said.
The profile of the fast food eaters differs markedly from that of the average fast food consumer in the United States, he added, with eating fast food in countries like Singapore a status symbol and a way of "participating in American culture".
The findings hold serious implications for recently developed and emerging countries, said Sara Bleich, an assistant professor of health policy at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore.
"The big multinational fast food companies are increasingly looking to maximize profit outside the United States, and they're looking to emerging economies like Singapore to do that," she said. "So at the global level, the health implications are very strong."
WHO said that on many levels, the world is better prepared now than ever before for aflu pandemic
Myanmar health officals say an outbreak of H5N1 bird flu in Mandalay
Tokyo Electric said it has been aware since last spring that radiation levels in water running in one of the plant gutters rise when it rains
Safe drinking water is available at about one-third of the level it was before the conflict erupted nearly five years ago, and supplies are cut-off to punish civilians at times
Elephants in Angola, which suffered decades of civil war, have been observed avoiding heavily-mined areas, suggesting their trunks were warning them to stay away.
Favipiravir halved death rate among some to 15 pct, but WHO says more research required on drug
The first medicine containing stem cells to treat a rare condition caused by burns to the eye has approved.
940 parasite samplescollected at 55 malaria treatment centres across Myanmar and its border regions. They found that almost 40 percent of the samples had mutations in their so-called kelch gene, K13 -- a known genetic signal of artemisinin drug resistance.
Yaws is known to be prevalent in 12 countries in areas where people have little access to healthcare, mainly in West and Central Africa, Asia and the Pacific Islands.
In the past few years, Nepal has seen the numbers of endangered species, such as the Royal Bengal tiger or the one-horned rhino, rise.
The investment would represent as little as 0.1 percent of current national health spending of the low and middle-income countries affected by NTD.
Nearly 1,000 abandoned California sea lions have washed ashore this year in what rehabilitation centers say is a growing crisis for the animals.
West Africa cases of Ebola show the first decrease in three weeks.
"Marijuana fools the brain's feeding system."scientist Tamas Horvath said.
The Department of Health (DOH) announced that a Filipina nurse who recently arrived in the country tested positive for the MERS Coronavirus.
North Korea, the world's most isolated country, is thousands of miles from the epicentre of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, and has reported no cases of the virus, which has killed more than 9,000 people.