-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas
WEDNESDAY, Jan. 16 (HealthDay News) -- Cutting back on sugar
intake can help adults lose weight and should be part of the
strategy to fight the global obesity epidemic, a new study
Although sugar intake is just one of the many causes for
obesity, researchers in New Zealand found the effects of limiting
sugar on body weight are significant. Their findings were published
online Jan. 15 in the
"Free sugars" are sugars added to foods by manufacturers, consumers and cooks. They are also found in honey, syrup and fruit juices, the study authors explained in a journal news release. The World Health Organization recommends cutting the intake of these free sugars to less than 10 percent of total energy.
After examining a total of 71 studies, including 30 trials where
participants were randomly assigned to a sugar intake intervention
or no intervention, Jim Mann, of the human nutrition department at
the University of Otago, and colleagues in New Zealand found that
cutting back on free sugars for up to eight months was associated
with an average weight loss of 1.8 pounds. Meanwhile, increasing
free sugar intake was linked to a weight gain of 1.7 pounds.
The researchers acknowledged that the findings were limited by
the fact that few of the studies they analyzed lasted longer than
10 weeks. They concluded, however, "when considering the rapid
weight gain that occurs after an increased intake of sugars, it
seems reasonable to conclude that advice relating to sugars intake
is a relevant component of a strategy to reduce the high risk of
overweight and obesity in most countries."
Although the effects on children were less clear, the study
authors noted that children with greater sugar intake were at
greater risk for being overweight or obese.
In response to the study's findings, U.S. experts said limiting
the intake of drinks sweetened with sugar through taxes on sugary
drinks, restrictions on ads directed toward children and limiting
serving sizes "is a high priority." In an editorial accompanying
the study, Walter Willett, a professor in the department of
nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, and a
colleague pointed to the need for educational programs,
improvements in menus at schools and worksites, as well as
nutrition programs for people with low incomes.
The American Heart Association has more about
sugar and carbohydrates.
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