Cutting Sugar Causes Drop in Heart Disease Risk Factors Among Obese Children

Note: Funding was provided by the NIH, UCSF-CTSI, and Touro University California. 

By Suzanne Leigh via 

Reducing sugar consumption in obese children, rather than cutting calories or starch, or losing weight, leads to a sharp decline in triglycerides and a key protein called ApoC-III – two features that are associated with heart disease in adulthood.

In a study published online July 19, 2016, and in the current issue of the journal Atherosclerosis, researchers from Touro University California and UCSF reported that triglycerides dropped 33 percent and ApoC-III fell by 49 percent in just 10 days of sugar restriction. The work expands on previous research published last year in the journal Obesity that found restricting sugar – without restricting calories or total carbs -- reversed a cluster of metabolic diseases in children, including high cholesterol and blood pressure.

In both studies, 43 children aged between 9 and 18 were recruited from the Weight Assessment for Teen and Child Health (WATCH) clinic at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital San Francisco. The participants were obese and had at least one chronic metabolic disorder, such as high blood pressure, high triglycerides, or a marker for fatty liver. Eligibility was limited to Latino and African-American youth, who are at higher risk for metabolic diseases.

Over the course of nine days, the children were provided food and beverages that mirrored the same fat, protein, carbohydrate and caloric levels as their home diets. The difference was that sugary foods like pastries, sweetened yogurts and cake were substituted with starchy ones, such as bagels, pizza and hot dogs. Total dietary sugar was cut from 28 percent to 10 percent, and fructose from 12 percent to 4 percent of total calories.

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