Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Sugar and the metabolic syndrome

The Study
In this investigation, 43 overweight adolescents reduced the sugar in their diet from 28% of calories to 10% of calories for a period of nine days. The sugar was replaced with fruit, bread, pasta and cereal grains. The subjects all had at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease at the start of the study.

The researchers wanted to study the effects of sugar on risk of heart disease, not weight loss, so they did their best to keep the participants weight stable throughout the study. The subjects were given all of their food for the 9 days and had risk factors for heart disease measured both before and after the intervention. 

The results were shocking. After just 9 days of consuming less sugar, the subjects had a statistically significant decrease in their blood pressure, triglycerides, LDL cholesterol, and had improvements in glucose tolerance. Obesity 2015: doi:10.1002/oby.21371

Take Home Message
This is a really important study. For decades, nutritionists thought of sugar as largely empty calories and only a problem if it caused weight gain. This article shows that sugar can impact risk of heart disease independent of any effect it has on body weight. 

Even though these adolescents had no appreciable change in their weight (they lost on average just 2 lbs.), there were dramatic reductions in blood pressure, blood lipids and glucose tolerance in just 9 days. And they were still consuming 10% of calories as sugar, which in my opinion, is a ton of sugar!

The message is now crystal clear. Sugar is not just empty calories, it has the potential to make you very sick. Do your best to strictly limit sugar, or even better, swear it off altogether.

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