Reducing sugar intake lowers the risk of obesity in children

Reducing sugar intake lowers the risk of obesity in children

Surprising results of a 9 day study


American kids who are obese have a tendency to develop type 2 diabetes, even though this was thought to be an adult's disease, and with it they also can develop high blood pressure and liver damage, storing excess fat their liver. It was thought that high calorie diets made that all happen. But kids in India and China often show up with the diabetes part even when they don't have obesity. So calories can't provide the explanation. 

So Dr. RH Lustig and colleagues at the University of California, San Francisco restricted the sugar intake of a small group (43) Latino or African-American kids between 8 and 18 years of age who were obese and had high blood pressure or another problem associated with a tendency towards diabetes, liver or heart disease. They dropped the kids usual sugar intake from 27% to 10% and their fructose from 10% to 4% of the calories in their diet. They replaced the lower sugar with starch so the calories wouldn't change and kept the rest of their diets exactly the same– for just 9 days. 

The children didn't lose much weight in that brief time (an average of 2 pounds). But they already began to see a drop in blood pressure, cholesterol and triglycerides, and sugar tolerance. And even the kids that didn't lose any weight already started to follow the same trend. 

Bottom Line

Our kids get too many sugar-sweetened beverages and other sweets which increases the risk of obesity and diabetes. The very good news is that at least some of this tendency can be reversed by restricting sugars–especially high fructose corn syrup and sucrose. And the benefits start quickly–and hopefully will continue.