Most people—especially kids—eat too much sugar due to added sugars that make their way into so many of our foods. All that sugar isn't just making your child hyper, though—it's damaging her metabolic health and putting her on a path toward obesity and diabetes.
The good news? A new study, financed by the National Institutes of Health and published in Obesity, has found that decreasing the amount of sugar a child consumes can instantly boost his or her health.
Researchers gathered their data from 43 obese children between the ages of 8 and 18 who were considered to be at increased risk for diabetes and other related disorders.
Each kid was put on a kid-friendly sugar-restricted diet for nine days. Foods with added sugars (such as high-sugar cereals and sweetened yogurt) were replaced by starchy foods (like bagels and pasta) so that the children's calorie and carbohydrate intake remained the same.
This modified diet had several immediate benefits: The children's high blood pressure dropped, and their blood sugar and cholesterol levels entered a healthier range.
Overall, the participants' total dietary sugar intake decreased from 28 percent to 10 percent. (The average American's total intake is about 15 percent.)
"Every aspect of their metabolic health got better, with no change in calories," said study author Robert Lustig, M.D. "This study definitively shows that sugar is metabolically harmful not because of its calories or its effects on weight. Rather, sugar is metabolically harmful because it's sugar."
Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn.