Sugar is rapidly becoming a public health crisis. Americans on average consume far more sugar than is healthy, leading a variety of health problems. While everyone knows sugar is bad for their waistline, they may be unaware of the other problems sugar consumption can cause.
This problem is especially bad in children. American children are quickly becoming obese and suffering from problems like Type 2 diabetes that used to only primarily affect adults. While sugar is bad for adults, it’s even worse for children.
What Science Has Found
One recent study showed just how terrible sugar was for children. It was conducted by Dr. Robert Lustig at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital. He wanted obese children to cut sugar from their diet for nine days to see how their bodies reacted. He was absolutely shocked by the results.
The researchers wanted the children to maintain their weight despite cutting out sugar. If their weight dropped, the children were simply encouraged to eat more. By keeping these children at the same weight, they could see what health benefits were gleaned solely from cutting out sugar, even if they didn’t lose weight.
What the researchers found was that insulin levels dropped, which was expected. What wasn’t expected was that almost every system in the body would improve, but that’s exactly what happened.
Along with insulin dropping, the children’s blood pressure dropped, bad cholesterol levels dropped, liver function improved, and triglycerides in the blood dropped. All of these are marked improvements after just nine days without sugar.
Here’s What Happens
According to Dr. Lustig, the children saw these benefits because sugar calories are the worst for children. That because these calories are converted to fat in the liver, leading to insulin resistance and diabetes. It can also lead to heart and liver problems if left unchecked.
It’s this strain on the body that researchers cited as being especially detrimental to overall health. It’s not just that sugar can lead to obesity, it’s that it makes the systems in the body work that much harder to process the food, leading to health problems at younger and younger ages.
The researchers hope that these stark findings push policy makers to start tackling childhood obesity. The biggest challenge for many parents is that unhealthy, sugary food tends to be cheaper than healthy options. This forces some parents to buy the unhealthy options because it’s all they can afford.
To fight this, some people have proposed taxing sugar the way we tax cigarettes, alcohol, and other unhealthy items. We argue that those items have a cost on society that should be offset by higher prices. Considering the high cost of medical treatment for obese people, it stands to reason that such a tax on sugar might be warranted.
They also hope that our government will begin subsidizing healthy options, making these food items cheaper for everyone. In doing this, we can potentially save billions of dollars in medical care for obesity and the myriad of health problems it brings. With such eye-opening findings, it’s clear that all people should closely monitor their sugar intake, especially parents of young children.