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 announces one million doses of Ebola vaccine to be produced in 2015
That pact would aim to improve on two decades of stuttering cooperation and rein in emissions of carbon dioxide blamed for a disruptive rise in temperatures
The World Health Organization last month urged the use of blood-derived products and serum from survivors.
Pentagon rapid-response Ebola medical team was scheduled to begin training at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas
Extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB), which is even more expensive and difficult to treat than multi drug-resistant (MDR-TB) strains, has now been reported in 100 countries around the world.
Device can be used in the field without special equipment, according to developers
The technique involved transplanting what are known as olfactory ensheathing cells into the patient's spinal cord and constructing a "nerve bridge" between two stumps of the damaged spinal column.
The meeting in Cuba is aimed at keeping Ebola at bay and it brings together senior officials from the ALBA bloc of nations
Wildlife conservationists have struggled to reverse a decline in numbers of several African species, undermined by ferocious poaching by gangs which mostly ship the ivory to Asia.
Jerald Dennis is feeling stigmatized by his neighbors and has been shunned by his friends
Peru's 2,679 glaciers, spread over 19 snow-capped mountain ranges, are the source of the vast majority of the country's drinking water.
Some 85 percent of people said they thought the disease spread through sneezing or coughing, despite the fact that the World Health Organization regards that type of transmission as unlikely
No approved specific drug or treatment available for battling fatal pandemic virus hitting many West African countries
The death toll so far in the outbreak, first reported in Guinea in March, has reached 4,447 from a total of 8,914 cases, said WHO Assistant Director General Bruce Aylward.
The world's fifth-largest user of nuclear power has around 70 percent, or nearly 9,000 tonnes, of its used fuel stacked in temporary storage pools
The Supreme Council of Health said the infected was a 71-year-old Qatari national who suffered diabetes mellitus, according to the official Qatari news agency