Childhood obesity improves rapidly with sugar reduction, study finds

A new study reveals that when obese children consume less high-fructose corn syrup, their health improves rapidly.

Not all sugars are created equally. Reducing the consumption of added sugar, or sugar added to food products as a sweetener, can significantly improve the health of obese and overweight children across a number of measures. According to a press release from the University of California, San Francisco, reducing added sugar intake was shown to reverse a number of metabolic diseases like high cholesterol and hypertension in obese children in as little as 10 days.

According to lead author Robert Lustig, a pediatric endocrinologist at the 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. This internally controlled intervention study is a solid indication that sugar contributes to metabolic syndrome, and is the strongest evidence to date that the negative effects of sugar are not because of calories or obesity.”

The paper was published today online and will appear this February in the journal Obesity, It shows how strong the link between sugar and metabolic syndrome actually is. Metabolic syndrome refers to a number of problems with the metabolism, including high blood pressure, high blood glucose levels, excess body fat, and high cholesterol. These conditions can lead to outcomes like stroke, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.

The study showed that 43 children between the ages of 9 and 18 that had at least one metabolic disorder improved significantly over a ten-day period when sugar was removed from their diets. Children reported feeling fuller when they ate less sugar, and showed improvements to nearly all measures of metabolic health over the course of the study.

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