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.