In the U.S., kids eat double or triple the amount of sugar considered safe by the health authorities. So, no wonder obesity and obesity have run rampant. Yet, past studies said that sugar was bad because of the empty calories it contains which fuel weight gain.
Yet, the recent study revealed that calories have nothing to do with it. Sugar is harmful to kids’ health for simply being sugar and putting an additional strain on their fragile bodies, UC researchers concluded.
In their study, scientists asked 44 obese kids to reduce their sugar intake for at least nine days. There were no changes in their diet, except that sugar was replaced with starch. Kids were also allowed to have as snacks their favorite pizza, chips and hot dogs.
If volunteers tended to lose weight during the trial, researchers readjusted their diets to prevent any changes in their weight. All study participants had been diagnosed with obesity and an obesity-related health problem such as high blood sugar levels or fatty liver.
Every day, participants were tested for blood pressure, insulin levels, and glucose tolerance, among others. Their cholesterol before and after the trial was also assessed and they underwent bone density scans.
The diets were based on the kids’ preference for foods as their parents told researchers. The amounts of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats were not altered, but sugar intake was cut by up to 28 percent and the team replaced it with starch from potatoes, pasta or rice.
In less than 2 weeks the benefits in health were amazing despite kids lacking exercise or a weight control plan. Dr. Robert Lustig, lead author of the study and endocrinologist a the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital San Francisco explained that after 9 days, the participants’ diastolic blood pressure dropped 5 mmHg; triglycerides and bad cholesterol were also reduced. Additionally, blood sugar levels and glucose tolerance improved, so the risk of diabetes was significantly reduced.
Additionally, participants lost weight, and told researcher that they felt full quicker although their diet has not changed. Researchers explained that a reduction in sugar also helped kids be more responsive to satiety cues. As a result, many volunteers complained that they received way too much food, although the amount of food on their menu didn’t change.
Study authors noted that reducing sugar improves obese children’s health in less than 2 weeks not because empty calories were removed from their diets. The spectacular results were possible because their metabolism wasn’t put under pressure from sugar anymore.
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