Could sugar be a villain in our diabesity epidemic? In the past few decades, dietary fat has taken the sole blame – but now views are shifting toward sugar as a major contributor.
Now new research from UC Davis suggests that sugar in the form of sugary drinks contribute not only to obesity but also to heart disease risk. After eating a sugar-free diet for several weeks, volunteers drank three concoctions a day of a sugary drink containing high fructose corn syrup (55% fructose, 45% sucrose) for two weeks. They agreed to be monitored in the hospital with their food carefully measured, their bodies subjected to scans and blood tests. This protocol added 500 calories of added sugar a day to their diets or about 25% of all calories.
About 1 in 4 Americans gets at least 200 calories a day from sugary drinks. Many children are getting 300 calories a day or more from sugar-containing drinks. Sodas are not the only culprit – an 8 oz. glass of fruit punch or apple juice has nearly 130 calories. The same amount of chocolate milk contains more than 200 calories.
The results were somewhat surprising – within the two weeks, their blood chemistry changed for the worse – in other words, the volunteers had elevated levels of LDL cholesterol, a risk factor for heart disease.
In addition, two large epidemiological studies with both men and women have found that Sugar-sweetened drinks were linked with adverse changes in levels of HDL, triglycerides and C-reactive protein. C-reactive protein is marker for inflammation.
Not surprisingly, the American Beverage Association (ABA), a trade organization, has disputed these studies.
CLICK HERE for how the sugar industry promoted its product through deceptive ads beginning in the 1930s. Follow the obesity timeline on the historical role of changes in our food supply that may have contributed to our current health problems.