It goes without saying that children in the United States love sugar. American kids often consume more than double or even triple the amount of the federal recommended dietary guidelines. This comes at a time when obesity is at an all time high and children are said to be more hyperactive in school than ever.
But what if sugar were to be taken away?
Scientists from the University of California San Francisco and Touro University put 43 children aged from 9 to 18 on low-sugar diets. All of these children were obese and either Latino or Black, which are the races with the highest rates of obesity. These kids underwent extensive testing that measured everything from blood pressure to cholesterol counts.
The child participants were kept on diets with a similar amount of calories, but with just 10% to 28% of the sugar they had previously consumed. The children also did not increase their amount of exercise or make any major changes to their lifestyles. The result was quite amazing.
In every child, measures of metabolic health improved. And it did not take long for this to happen. The improvement occurred in just ten days. Blood pressure reduced, the amount of “bad” cholesterol in their bodies fell, and more healthy insulin levels were shown. Each of the participants also lost about two pounds in body weight, and some lost even more.
Nutritionists have long stated that calories from sugar are the worst kind of calories. These calories develop into fat in the liver. They also make the body resistant to insulin and increase risks of diabetes, heart disease and liver disease.
It should be noted that the study is very basic, and it doesn’t prove much because of its small sample size. Still, it does show that there is likely too much sugar in most American diets. If people cut back on the sweet stuff, their health would probably dramatically improve over time.
According to pediatric endocrinologist Robert Lustig, not all calories are the same. It really matters where that calorie is derived from.
Lustig explained, “Where those calories come from determines where in the body they go. Sugar calories are the worst, because they turn to fat in the liver, driving insulin resistance, and driving risk for diabetes, heart and liver disease. This has enormous implications for the food industry, chronic disease and health care costs.”
In the near future, researchers plan to expand their study to focus on long term sugar reductions. The leading thought is that they should be able to see an even more dramatic improvement in health.