Less sugar

Sugar is not a health food; that much is clear. Excessive sugar consumption can lead to conditions like metabolic syndrome and in this column we have reported recent studies showing that sugar also makes you age more rapidly and can even effectively make you less intelligent by impacting how your brain functions. Now a new study is adding further to the case against sugar by reinforcing what common sense would tell you, which is that cutting down on sugar helps you lose weight.

The study in question was actually meta-analysis involving data from 71 studies that sought to establish if there is a link between sugar consumption and overweight or fatness. Of the 71 studies there were 31 randomised trials and 40 cohort studies looking at large populations over a period of time.

For the analysis “free sugars” were defined as sugars that are added to a food by the cook, manufacturer, or consumer. The researchers found that when people cut down the amount of “free sugar” in their diet there was an average 0.8 kilo loss of weight and by contrast when people added free sugar there was an average 0.75 kilo weight gain.

These actual amounts of weight loss may not seem huge but when you consider that obesity is a multi-factorial condition then the contribution from sugar cannot be dismissed lightly. The researchers conclude that total kilojoules consumed from free sugars should be less than ten per cent of total kilojoule intake.

The bigger point that they make is that children need to be educated about this. The real danger comes from all of the sugar-laden treats marketed to children and parents as the answer to everything from low energy moments to boredom.

The news that sugar makes you put on weight, and that cutting it down will help you lose weight, is not exactly earth shattering. However, if it makes a difference in getting the message through when the link between sugar and conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, and even cancer may not, then it is an important study indeed.

Terry Robson

Terry Robson

Terry Robson is the Editor-in-Chief of WellBeing and the Editor of EatWell.

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