Saturday, April 7, 2012

Is Sugar Toxic?

A recent study led by a California endocrinologist has once again thrust sugar into the limelight. Why? Because this doctor claims that sugar is toxic. WOW. Bold statement? Apparently he thinks so too, but has evidence to support his argument.
                Dr. Lustig, who led the research and has published scientific work on sugar, was interviewed for the CBS article. Lustig says the American lifestyle is killing us and 75% of the diseases in this country linked to sugar are preventable.
                In short, Lustig is reporting that sugar is evil yet Americans continue down the path of obesity, type II diabetes, hypertension and heart disease by consuming more than 130 pounds of refined sugar, per person a year.
                The rest of the article is interesting and insightful into Dr. Lustig’s theory of sugar. Another study at the University of California is highlighted in the article, which links excess high fructose corn syrup to increased risk for heart disease and stroke. Kimber Stanhope, a nutritional biologist, leads the study and her work rejects the age-old statement that ‘a calorie is a calorie’. In a tightly controlled environment, Stanhope completely decreased sugar levels and then slowly increased consumption of sugary beverages. Her interview included some of these statements:
Kimber Stanhope: ‘We found that the subjects who consumed high fructose corn syrup had increased blood levels of LDL cholesterol and other risk factors for cardiovascular disease.”
Dr. Sanjay Gupta: How quickly did these changes occur?
Kimber Stanhope: Within two weeks.
Kimber Stanhope's study suggests that when a person consumes too much sweet stuff, the liver gets overloaded with fructose and converts some of it into fat. Some of that fat ends up in the bloodstream and helps generate a dangerous kind of cholesterol called small dense LDL.                

The purpose of sharing this article is not to say that I too, think sugar is evil. BUT, I do think that the average American consumes too much refined sugar (baked goods, sugary beverages and processed junk food). This study poses an extreme perspective, and yet there is a hint of truth. This doctor is just trying to help people, especially children as he is a pediatrician.

Take home message: Watch your intake, cut the sugary beverages and be aware of the research developments. Stay informed.

Have a great day!
Sara Shipley
University of Central Oklahoma
Nutrition and Dietetics Student