We already know that sugar can wreak havoc on our waistlines, but is the worrying rise of diabetes, heart disease and obesity a direct result of the nation's increased sugar consumption? A new study is saying yes, America's sweet tooth is toxic.
Dr. Robert Lustig, from the department of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco and his colleagues have published a paper claiming they've found "hard and fast data that sugar is toxic, irrespective of its calories and irrespective of weight."
The study, unlike past research which has been unable to differentiate between the effects of sugar and the amount of calories consumed in general, surveyed 43 Hispanic and African adolescents and introduced a new diet with the same amount of calories they were used to consuming - minus the sugar. Every day, the subjects weighed themselves and were told to consume more food if they started to lose weight.
The results? Some of the kids who were in the early stages of developing diabetes saw a reversal. The study also showed that a decline in triglyceride and LDL levels plus a decrease of fat in the liver. Excessive fat in the liver, known as "fatty liver," occurs from drinking too much alcohol but it is also common with obese or diabetic children.
"Everything got better." - head researcher Dr. Robert Lustig on the results of cutting out sugar
“I’m not suggesting in any way, shape or form that we gave them healthy food,” Lustig says. “We gave them crappy food... processed food — and they still got better. Imagine how much even better they would have gotten if we didn’t substitute and took the sugar out. Then they would have gotten even better yet. That’s the point.”
Other experts are skeptical about the findings, saying that there is a possibility that the health benefits could be attributed to an increased metabolism and it can be hard to fact check the kids' initial diets, factors that Lustig says he hopes to eliminate in future research.
Whatever the case, more attention and follow-up studies on the impact of of sugar intake on our bodies are a step in the right direction.