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Monday, April 1, 2013

Count Your “Added Sugar” to Lose Weight, and Lower Your Risk of Type 2 Diabetes and Heart Disease



Can cutting back on added sugars result in weight loss?  An article in the BMJ indicates that reducing sugar intake can result in a small but significant loss of body weight.  Most nutritionists recommend we limit our sugar intake to less than 10% of our calories.  

What are “added” sugars?  Any sugars added to the foods we eat.  This includes sucrose, honey, syrups, high fructose corn syrup, brown sugar.  
In the BMJ article, adults who cut back on their added sugar intake lost about 2 pounds over 8 months.  While those who ate more added sugar foods gained about 2 pounds.  In children, studies were inconsistent but research has shown that children who drink more sugar sweetened beverages (soda, sports drinks) were more likely to be overweight or obese. 

But trying to cut back on “added” sugars isn’t easy.   One can read the label and look for “sugar” but this can be quite misleading.  For example, a packet of raisins may say “Sugars 17g”  when in reality there is NO ADDED SUGAR.  If one looks at the ingredients, the only ingredient is “RAISINS”.   Not one teaspoon of sugar has been added.  The label is including the fructose, the natural sugar, found in raisins.  So even though the label states 17 grams of sugar, raisins would not have any added sugar.  Thus, food labels can be very confusing to anyone trying to cut back on added sugar in their diet. 

Why cut back on added sugars?  One is that sucrose and other added sugars increase our risk of Type 2 diabetes.  Drinking sugar sweetened beverages such as sodas dumps a huge amount of glucose into the blood stream, requiring a lot of insulin bot be produced to handle all this sugar.   

The American Heart Association notes that high sugar consumption can lead to an increased risk of heart disease.  Even in adolescents, the added sugars in soft drinks and other foods can result in high cholesterol levels and heart disease when an adult.  Teens who had a lower intake of added sugars, had less risk of heart disease as indicated by a better cholesterol profile.  As stated on their website, “The intake of added sugars is positively associated with known cardiovascular risk factors.” 
The American Heart Association recommends we limit or added sugar intake to:

  • Women   nor more than 100 calories of added sugar a day
  • Men no more than  150 calories of added sugar a day

Limiting our intake of added sugars to 100 or 150 calories isn’t easy.  But by reading labels and paying more attention to which foods we eat have added sugars, we can take steps to at least reduce the amount of added sugars in our diet. 

Sources:

Cutting down on sugar has  a small but significant effect on body weight.  Monday, Jan 14, 2013.  http://www.bmj.com/press-releases/2013/01/14/cutting-down-sugar-has-small-significant-effect-body-weight

Dietary sugars and body weight… http://www.bmj.com/content/346/bmj.e7492

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