Sugar Science

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Did you know that the sugar (corn syrup, cane, etc..) added to soda, sports drinks and energy drinks makes up 36% of all the added sugar consumed.  That makes liquid sugar the single largest source of added sugar in the average American’s diet.

There’s been much discussion about sugar in the media and the use of it into almost everything we consume.  On a recent radio segment I caught the other day on my local public radio station, KPCC, host Alex Cohen, from Take Two, spoke with Laura Schmidt the lead investigator with SugarScience.org and a professor in the school of medicine at UC San Francisco. They discussed the abundance of the different types of sugar in our world and the launch of their new website to educate the public about all the effects of sugar on their recently launched SugarScience.org The interview is terrific and I’ve put the links below. Two things stood out for me, after I heard it, the differences of the types of sugar and sugar belly.

Are ALL sugar equally unhealthy?

According to SugarScience.org, research has found a difference in the health impact of added sugars vs. sugars naturally occurring in food. For example, eating more fruit over time appears to protect us from heart disease, which is currently the number one cause of death in America and worldwide.  Meanwhile, those consuming sugary drinks and sugar-laden processed foods appears to increase the risks of acquiring heart disease and, ultimately, the risk of dying from it.  Scientists are studying a range of reasons for this.  It may have to do with the ways in which sugar comes packaged in the fiber in fruit, and wrapped with beneficial nutrients (such as antioxidants) that are known to protect us from heart disease.

Sugar belly?

Much like a beer belly, sugar belly refers to weight gain around the abdomen as a result of eating too much sugar – what doctors refer to as “visceral fat.” Fat stored around the midsection is different from other fat and can send signals that disrupt the body’s ability to sense fullness and stop eating. If a person’s waist circumference is significantly larger than his or her hip circumference, this may be a sign of Metabolic Syndrome (MetS). In such a case, it is important to consult with a physician, who may want to run some blood tests to assess whether MetS is a concern.