We know that sugar makes foods more palatable and can even lead to addiction, but most of us have no clue how much better our lives would be without it. A recent study on obese participants suggests that cutting sugar dramatically improves children health in just 10 days.
Researchers have long known that sugar may fuel obesity in kids and overeating. And they most of the time put the blame on the ‘empty calories’ in sugar. But a recent study suggests that sugar is not harmful because of the calories or its influence on weight. Sugar is bad because it is sugar, study authors concluded.
The study, which was published last week in the journal Obesity, shows that reducing sugar intake can dramatically improve metabolism and overall health in obese children. The research involved 48 kids diagnosed with obesity, who were also big fans of everything containing sugar. At the beginning of the study, 28 percent of calories in their diets came from added sugar.
These kids were also diagnosed with at least on condition that may be triggered by sugar such as high blood sugar levels, glucose intolerance and fatty liver. For nine days, children were put on a diet with reduced sugar intake but calories remained the same. Researchers replaced ‘the empty calories’ with starch.
Researchers explained that it was not enough to switch from table sugar, also known as sucrose, to High Fructose Corn Syrup because they are basically the same – a mix of glucose and fructose. In sugar the fructose-glucose ratio is 50:50, while in corn syrup the ratio is 55:45. But starch is a pure glucose chain.
Yet, kids weren’t deprived of their favorite foods during the experiment. Researchers only replaced processed foods with added sugar with other processed foods that had little to no sugar or fructose. So, volunteers were still allowed to eat their pizza dishes, hot dogs and chips.
Additionally, study authors carefully monitored tparticipants’ weight to make sure that they didn’t lose any pound. The idea was to see the pure health benefits of sugar without exercise or weight loss.
After 10 days, researchers observed significant improvements in the children’s blood sugar levels, glucose tolerance, cholesterol levels and liver function. Some kids even lost weight during the experiment, so researchers needed to supplement their diet with extra calories to keep their weight stable.
Researchers explained that sugar is a major contributor to metabolic syndrome and diabetes. The findings echo past research that had suggested sugar may be the direct cause of today’s diabetes epidemics in the western world, as more and more people with healthy diets and lifestyle report that they eventually developed the disease because of their sweet tooth.
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