Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and type-2 diabetes occurs in children at higher levels in the U.S. than many other countries. Also increasing in children are metabolic risk factors such as large waistlines, high triglyceride levels, low HDL levels, high blood pressure and high blood sugar.

A new study financed by the National Institutes of Health and published in the journal Obesity suggest that added dietary sugar, and not calories, is the culprit for U.S. children’s increased health risks.

The study selected children exhibiting symptoms of metabolic syndrome, which is having risks factors for varies diseases including type-2 diabetes and fatty liver. The researchers adjusted the children’s caloric intake to keep their weight about the same, but gave them a 9 day supply of food where added sugars, especially fructose, were remove.

Simply by removing added sugars from their diet, the researchers found the children’s metabolic risk factors reduced. The reduced sugar diet

  • Reduced the children’s blood pressure
  • Lowered their LDL levels
  • Lowered their triglyceride levels
  • And lowered their blood sugar levels

This study adds scientific evidence that sugar, especially fructose, is the true culprit in many of our growing health problems in children, and not calories from healthy foods. In other words, empty calories from added sugars is unhealthy, while calories from foods without added sugars is healthier. Additional studies will determine if added sugars have the same effect on adults. However, I suspect that added sugars are just as unhealthy for adults as they are for children.