Sugar, we love it, we hate it, most of us spend our lives vowing to cut down but never quite succeeding. Why? Because it’s hidden, in one form or another, in pretty much EVERYTHING we eat! But is it really to blame for our putting on weight?
And the danger is very real, according to a new study, we are overlooking just how dangerous sugar is for our bodies and weight gain. The study was carried out by a paediatric endocrinologist in San Francisco and author of the book “Fat Chance: the hidden truth about sugar, Dr Robert Lustig, ”Writing in the Guardian, he says the health of 43 obese children in the care of his clinic dramatically improved when the sugar in their diet was replaced with starchy foods like crisps. They ate the same number of calories, he says, and yet their metabolic disease, which can cause diabetes, was reversed within 10 days.
The study was published in the journal Obesity, and Robert believes it proves that “a calorie is not a calorie” –despite this idea being contested by many scientists who say the damage sugar does is through its calorific content alone.
In Robert’s study, the 43 children, aged nine to 18, had all been referred to hospital because of their weight and significant related health issues, such as high blood pressure.
They were given nine days of food prepared for them by the clinic and told to weigh themselves daily. The added sugar in their diet was reduced from 28% to 10% and the fructose – a form of sugar believed to be particularly problematic – from 12% to 4% of total calories. Sugary food was replaced by starchy food such as turkey, hot dogs, crisps and pizza.
After nine days, the researchers say, most aspects of the children’s metabolic health improved – their diastolic blood pressure, “bad” LDL cholesterol and triglycerides dropped, fasting blood glucose went down and insulin levels were cut by a third. Their liver function test results improved.
Other scientists are less convinced claiming that this study was too small and not well-controlled. It did not compare the children with a similar group who continued to eat a high-sugar diet. The comparison instead was made with their weight and health before the study while on their usual diet. According to experts, it is well known that obese children underestimate and under-report food intake, particularly of soft drinks and snack foods.