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Originally published November 12 2015

Sugar causes more health damage than you're being told, study claims

by David Gutierrez, staff writer

(NaturalNews) Sugar causes even more health damage than has been previously believed, suggests a study conducted by researchers from Touro University and the University of California-San Francisco Benioff Children's Hospital that was published in the journal Obesity.

The researchers found that when they replaced the sugar in obese children's diets with an equal number of calories from starchy food – including junk food such as potato chips – the children's symptoms of metabolic syndrome began to reverse in less than ten days.

The study suggests that the harm caused by dietary sugar cannot be fully explained by its contribution to weight gain and obesity.

Shocking improvements in less than two weeks

The study was conducted on 43 children between the ages of 9 and 18 who had been referred to the children's hospital due to obesity-related health problems. The children were asked about their typical home diets, and then they had all of their food prepared for them by the hospital for the next nine days. The researchers reduced the sugar in the children's diets from an average of 28 percent of daily calories to 10 percent, and further reduced fructose specifically from 12 percent of calories to 4 percent of calories. The sugar was replaced with starchy foods (complex carbohydrates) containing the same number of calories as those that were removed. The starchy foods were not necessarily considered healthy, however, and included hot dogs, chips and pizza.

The children were instructed to weigh themselves daily. If they appeared to be losing weight, indicating a drop in daily caloric intake, the researchers increased the amount of food they were eating until they regained their initial weight. All diets were designed to keep the same fat-protein-carbohydrate proportions as the children's initial diets.

After just nine days, the researchers saw improvements in the children's levels of diastolic blood pressure, LDL ("bad") cholesterol, triglycerides, fasting blood glucose, insulin and liver function.

The scale of many of the changes was remarkable. Insulin levels decreased by 50 percent, while fasting glucose and diastolic blood pressure each fell by five points.

"In other words we reversed their metabolic disease in just 10 days, even while eating processed food, by just removing the added sugar and substituting starch, and without changing calories or weight," wrote lead researcher Robert Lustig in the Guardian.

Lustig is a pediatric endocrinologist and the author of the book Fat Chance: The Hidden Truth About Sugar.

The toxic effects of poor diet

Lustig says that the study supports his assertion that "a calorie is not [just] a calorie," and that calories from different sources can make different contributions to metabolic disease.

"While this study does not prove that sugar is the sole cause of metabolic disease, it clearly demonstrates it is a modifiable one," he writes.

An increasing number of public health advocates are focusing on reducing sugar consumption as a relatively direct way to improve health worldwide. A recent study by researchers from Tufts University published in the journal Circulation, for example, used prior estimates of how sugar consumption contributes to chronic disease to estimate that sugary soft drink consumption alone kills 200,000 people per year.

Another study found that for every 150 calories worth of sugar in a country's food supply, the rates of type 2 diabetes increase by 11 times.

In a recent editorial in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, a group of health researchers emphasized the scientific consensus that it is impossible to reverse the effects of a poor diet – including excess sugar consumption – with exercise alone. The writers accused the fast food industry of borrowing from Big Tobacco's playbook by attempting to play up the significance of exercise and obscure the toxic effects of a poor diet.

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