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Is Sugar the Culprit for Increasing Obesity Rates?

by Wendy

Sugar- who knew the combination of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen could be so sweet? Whether it’s that sugary snack you consumed to get yourself through the work day or the chocolate cake you made with the family this weekend, we have all come to assume that the key to staying healthy is consuming in moderation. Well, think again.

In the part two series of “The Skinny on Obesity”, Dr. Robert Lustig, Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology, and Elissa Epel with the Center for Obesity Assessment, Study and Treatment at the University of California, continue to discuss the impact of sugar on disease rates around the world.

Recent studies have found sugar to be the #1 contributor of obesity and obesity-related diseases. This is due to the way the two components in sugar, glucose and fructose, metabolizes in your body: as both fat and carbohydrates! This is the culprit of excess weight gain in people all over the world. Glucose, our good sugar, is energy multiple parts of your body can use and run on, whereas fructose, our bad sugar, can be only be used by your liver, just like alcohol.

Studies have also shown diseases that are linked to excessive fructose consumption, such as hypertension, obesity, and addiction; also appear in diseases linked to excessive alcohol consumption. Who knew? It’s due to the ethanol component in alcohol that creates the same toxic effects in your body as fructose.

So how much fructose is safe for us to consume?

It’s recommended to consume no more than 25 grams of fructose per day; 10-15 grams per day if you’re already overweight or have/at risk of any diseases linked to excessive fructose consumption.

Are there any sugar substitutes we can try?

Yes, herb stevia and dextrose (pure glucose) are your best options and can be found at any of your local health food stores. Other sugar substitutes, such as cane sugar, honey, date sugar, coconut sugar, brown rice syrup, fruit juice, molasses, maple syrup, sucanat, sorghum, turbinado or agave syrup, all contain high amounts of fructose.

How about products that say low fat? Are they safe?

When fat is removed from foods, the flavor is also removed from it. So when you see food that is deemed low fat, you’ll always find added sugar or high fructose content in the packaging.

Let’s limit the consumption of high in fructose foods whenever possible. Maintain a diet with whole, preferably organic, foods that have no added sugars and other chemicals. Your body will thank you.

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Wendy Yu is a digital marketing professional living in New York City. When she’s not using the power of social media to share ideas on how to be more environmentally friendly, she is exploring the city, trying local foods, and learning more about how she can reduce her carbon footprint.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Green Halloween® or our partners.

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