I hate to bring this up the day before Halloween, but pediatric endocrinologist and professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco, Dr. Robert Lustig, has “definitive evidence” that sugar is “toxic.”
In a very small study (43 children age 8-18 years), Lustig replaced the sugar that kids were typically eating with starches instead (to keep the calories the same). Over a nine-day period eating very little sugar (10% of total daily calories), Alice Park says the children showed improvement in every metabolic measure:
“We took chicken teriyaki out, and put turkey hot dogs in. We took sweetened yogurt out, and put baked potato chips in. We took pastries out and put bagels in,” says Lustig. “So there was no change in [the children’s] weight and no change in calories.”
After nine days of having their total dietary sugar reduced to 10% of their daily calories, however, they showed improvements in all of these measures. Overall, their fasting blood sugar levels dropped by 53%, along with the amount of insulin their bodies produced since insulin is normally needed to break down carbohydrates and sugars. Their triglyceride and LDL levels also declined and, most importantly, they showed less fat in their liver.
It’s not that Lustig fed the children healthy foods. In fact, that was the whole point:
The diet he provided the children isn’t considered ideal from a health perspective — starches are still a considerable source of calories and can contribute to weight gain. But Lustig relied on the starches to prove a point in a scientific study — that the effect sugar has on the body goes beyond anything connected to its calories and to weight. “I’m not suggesting in any way, shape or form that we gave them healthy food,” he says. “We gave them crappy food, shitty 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.”
Read more from Dr. Lustig about sugar and childhood obesity on The PediaBlog here.
Yahoo!Images/offshewent.com — 1966 ad for sugar in Time Magazine. The advertisement concludes with this “Note to Mothers”:
“Exhaustion may be dangerous — especially to children who haven’t learned to avoid it by pacing themselves. Exhaustion opens the door a little wider to the bugs and ailments that are always lying in wait. Sugar puts back energy fast — offsets exhaustion. Synthetic sweeteners put back nothing. Energy is the first requirement of life. Play safe with your young ones — make sure they get sugar every day.”