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Restricting sugar 'offers health benefits'

30 October 2015 07:53

Researchers found restricting children's sugar intake made them healthier

Researchers found restricting children's sugar intake made them healthier

Cutting sugar intake can have dramatic health benefits even when no weight is lost, new research suggests.

Scientists in the US asked a group of more than 40 obese nine to 18 year-olds to follow a sugar-restricted diet for nine days.

Although their meals contained the same level of fat, protein and calories as their normal diets, the children's blood pressure and cholesterol levels went down.

The research team says their findings suggest that although sugar is metabolically harmful, it is not because of the calories it contains.

The team examined the impact that cutting back people's sugar intake has on metabolic syndrome, a group of conditions that can raise the chances of Type 2 diabetes, stroke and heart disease.

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All the children taking part in the study were obese and suffering from at least one other chronic disorder like high blood pressure, raised cholesterol, excess fat on the waistline or high levels of blood glucose.

Their diets excluded added sugar but included fruit while the carbohydrates the children normally got from sugar were replaced by pasta and cereals. If the children's weight began going down they were given extra carbohydrates to keep it stable.

The meal plans meant the proportion of sugar in the children's diets was cut to 10% from 28%.

As a result, the research team from the University of California San Francisco and Touro University found the children benefited from lower blood pressure, decreased cholesterol levels and better liver function.

The youngsters' insulin levels also went down by a third while their fasting blood glucose levels dropped by five points.

The study is published in the Obesity journal.

The number of people living with diabetes in the UK has more than doubled over the last 20 years and now stands at almost four million. It is estimated that around five million people will have diabetes by 2025.

Even more people have pre-diabetes, meaning their blood sugar levels are above the normal range.