The emergence of modern, sedentary lifestyle that pushes people towards junk food has been linked with rising cases of lifestyle diseases such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease etc. With so many lives being lost as a result and thousands being affected by debilitating diseases, it has become necessary to spread awareness by telling people how their diet and lifestyle is influencing their health and wellbeing. The situation is critical since not only adults but even our children’s health is being affected by unhealthy food choices. Cases of obesity and resulting complications are on the rise among children the world over, which is a troubling development that needs priority attention from government and health agencies.
Many experts point out to the presence of added sugar in child diets, which they say is responsible for lifestyle related health problems faced by children. This seems quite true, even more so because a rigorous new study has found that when sugar is reduced in the diet of obese children, they register significant health gains in just 10 days. Some of the key benefits include reduced blood pressure and cholesterol. The study involved 43 obese children in the age group of 9 – 18 years. All subjects displayed symptoms of one or more metabolic disorders such as high blood sugar, high blood pressure, increased cholesterol, and excess body fat in the waist area.
This new study was financed by the National Institute of Health. The findings of the study were published in the journal Obesity. The primary purpose of the study was to find an answer to the long-debated question – “Whether sugar is bad for health on its own, or is it the resulting weight gain that causes the health problems?” What researchers did was that they replaced added sugar food products with no-added sugar versions, thereby reducing the overall intake of added sugar. It is important to note that the overall calories consumed was not reduced; rather, only the sugar portion was cut down and replaced with carbohydrates and proteins. For example, sweetened yogurt was replaced with bagels, pastries were replaced with baked potato chips, and chicken teriyaki (which is usually prepared in sugary syrup) was replaced with turkey hot dogs or burgers. Similarly, other changes were made to reduce the overall intake of sugar.
The researchers were pleasantly surprised with the results because in just 10 days, the children registered significant health benefits, even when there was little or no weight loss. On average, LDL cholesterol (which is associated with heart disease) was down by 10 points, diastolic blood pressure fell five points and triglycerides dropped 33 points. Blood sugar and insulin levels also went down, indicating reduced risk of Type 2 diabetes. The findings of this study support the argument that not all calories are created equal. It also suggests that calories from sugar may actually increase the risk of metabolic disorders such as Type 2 diabetes.
Whether it is our children, adults or old, healthy diets are a must for everyone. If we follow healthy diet choices, we can enjoy life with more energy and potentially create a better world. Cutting down on sugar would be the first step in that direction.