Heart disease and diabetes symptoms such as insulin resistance, abdominal obesity, hypertension, and high triglyceride levels (a cluster of traits known as metabolic syndrome), previously seen almost entirely in adults, are being found in adolescents in increasing numbers.
A study of this problem suggests that reducing intake of sugar-sweetened beverages during childhood could lessen the risk of chronic disease later on.
The study looked at traits such as blood pressure, waist circumference, and levels of HDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and glucose in more than 150 13-year-old girls, as well as their parents. The study looked at dietary, activity and lifestyle patterns starting from when the girls were 5.Those at higher risk for metabolic syndrome also consumed the most sugary beverages between the ages of 5 and 9. That group of girls also had significantly greater increases in weight and fat mass between the ages of 5 and 13. All of those are risk factors for chronic diseases in later life.
If you ever wondered why I'm so adamant about ridding schools of sugary sweet drinks, this latest Penn State University study ought to convince you.
Part of what makes soda so unhealthy is that it contains fructose in the form of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), which is metabolized to fat in your body far more rapidly than any other sugar. The entire burden of metabolizing fructose falls on your liver, and it promotes a particularly dangerous kind of body fat, namely adipose fat. This is the fat type of fat that collects in your abdominal region and is associated with a greater risk of heart disease.
Additionally, because most fructose is consumed in liquid form (i.e. soda and sweetened beverages of all kinds), its negative metabolic effects are magnified. Because while HFCS has about the same amount of fructose as cane sugar, the fructose in HFCS is in its "free" form and not attached to any other carbs.
The fructose in fruits and in cane sugar is bonded to other sugars which results in a decrease in its metabolic toxicity.
Consuming foods that contain high amounts of fructose—even if it's a natural product—is, to put it bluntly, the fastest way to trash your health. As a standard recommendation, I strongly advise keeping your TOTAL fructose consumption below 25 grams per day. For most people it would also be wise to limit your fructose from fruit to 15 grams or less, as you're virtually guaranteed to consume "hidden" sources of fructose if you drink beverages other than water and eat processed food. Remember, the average 12-ounce can of soda contains 40 grams of sugar, at least half of which is fructose, so one can of soda ALONE would exceed your daily allotment.
Thankfully, there are plenty of things you can do stop this childhood obesity epidemic in your home before it gets out of control. In addition to replacing those sugary juices and soft drinks with clean water, you should limit your children's TV time and get the TV out of their bedroom immediately, as well as get your children off the couch and onto the playground or, at the very least, moving around vigorously while they watch TV!
Fortunately, stopping soda is not all that difficult. You just need to be cautious and wean yourself off slowly so you don't go through a severe withdrawal. If you still struggle with stopping, though, you can try Turbo Tapping, which many have found help them stop this pernicious habit.
Vital Votes reader Tom from Grandview, Ohio opines: