Q: I don’t understand how sugar can be so bad for you. We need glucose to survive, and sugar plantations have been around a lot longer than today’s obesity epidemic. So what’s the deal? – Jason T., Sebring, Florida
A: That’s a question a lot of people have, so thanks for giving us the chance to answer it.
First, the sheer amount of sugar Americans consume is mind-boggling. Twenty years ago, when the obesity epidemic was just starting, the average American consumed about 26 pounds of sugar a year (too much even then). Today, the average American gobbles up to 150 pounds annually! Most of it is hidden in processed foods, from English muffins to salad dressings.
Second, high fructose corn syrup has invaded almost every corner of the American food chain. Try finding condiments, baked goods and packaged meals without HFCS. The Cleveland Clinic says it can wreak havoc with your metabolism and lead to increased risk of high blood pressure, insulin resistance and obesity. A new study from UC San Francisco and Touro University California further reveals that sugar directly contributes to metabolic syndrome, a precursor to diabetes that is characterized by a cluster of symptoms, including a large waist size, high blood pressure, low HDL cholesterol, high triglycerides and high blood glucose (whether or not you’re taking meds for them).
Working with a group of obese children, the researchers found that after only nine days of reduced sugar intake (they replaced sugar with starches because they wanted to keep the kids’ calorie intake the same), “virtually every aspect of the participants’ metabolic health improved,” without a change in weight. And the scientists concluded, “This study demonstrates that ‘a calorie is not a calorie.’ … Sugar calories are the worst.”
So if you ever thought that doughnut, soda or candy bar couldn’t really hurt you, think again. Added sugars and syrups add to your health woes with every bite!
© 2015 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.