Cutting Sugar Boosts Kids’ Health Immediately

Cutting Sugar Boosts Kids’ Health Immediately

By Dennis Thompson

HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Oct. 27, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Cutting most of the sugar from a child’s diet can immediately improve health, even if the diet still contains the same amount of calories and carbohydrates as before, a new study suggests.

Researchers put a group of 43 obese kids on a nine-day diet that severely restricted sugar intake, but replaced added sugars with starchy foods to maintain the children’s intake of calories and carbs.

That diet caused immediate reductions in their high blood pressure and improvement in their blood sugar and cholesterol levels, the investigators found.

“Every aspect of their metabolic health got better, with no change in calories,” said study author Dr. Robert Lustig, a pediatric endocrinologist at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in San Francisco. “This study definitively shows that sugar is metabolically harmful not because of its calories or its effects on weight. Rather, sugar is metabolically harmful because it’s sugar.”

The finding raises serious concerns about the health effects of sugar, and calls into question the longstanding belief that “a calorie is a calorie is a calorie,” regardless of its food source, said Dr. Jeffrey Mechanick, director of metabolic support in the division of endocrinology, diabetes and bone disease at Mount Sinai Icahn School of Medicine in New York City.

“It’s an important study that adds to the weight of evidence, and really calls out for us to examine the fact that eating patterns, and what a healthy eating pattern is for the American public, are as important as total caloric intake,” said Mechanick, who is president-elect of the American College of Endocrinology and a past president of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists.

For the study, researchers recruited kids aged 8 to 18 who were obese and had at least one other chronic metabolic problem, such as high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol levels or signs of insulin resistance.

The study only involved black and Hispanic kids, because of their higher risk for certain conditions associated with metabolic syndrome, such as high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.

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