A Medscape article in Aug 2016 titled AHA Says Cap Added Sugars for Kids at 6 Teaspoons a Day finally has the AHA taking a stand on sugar. Now why would the American Heart Association be concerned about sugar? I answer this question in my blog A Sugar-Free Half Century. In it I describe how the sugar industry has mislead consumers for 50 years as to the dangerous effects of sugar on the body – especially the heart. Instead of limiting sugar, the industry pointed the blame for heart disease on fat and, by extension, cholesterol. Most of us now know that cholesterol is not the cause of heart disease and taking statins is not the cure.
Surveys show that U.S. children ages 2 to 19 years old gobble up about 20 tsp of sugar a day. Actually, the amount of sugar ingested may be much higher since people often underreport on surveys. Part of the problem is that sugar on labels is displayed in grams and the U.S. school system is not metric, so kids don’t know that 4.2 grams equals 1 tsp.
The AHA wants kids to only drink 8 ounces of sugar-laced soda a week. DANG, I’m sorry AHA but that ship has sailed! You only have to stand outside Costco and see the cartons of soda wheeled over to the family car to know that soda, not water, is the beverage of choice in the American household.
For decades there have been no official statements about the side effects of sugar. The sugar industry came down hard on any critics. They came after me and my license because I said bad things about sugar on a national TV show in Canada. They threatened the UN and WHO when they wanted to announce stricter sugar guidelines to the public. I’m glad to see the AHA finally taking a stand. Their statement published in the journal Circulation says, “Current evidence supports the associations of added sugars with increased energy intake, increased adiposity, increased central adiposity, and increased dyslipidemia.” They also agree that overweight children who continue to abuse sugar will become insulin-resistant and develop type 2 diabetes.
Certainly the incidence of diabetes in children has risen at an alarming rate. This fact makes it even more important to explore a low carb Keto diet for kids. The best way to do that is check out the Diet Doctor’s Low Carb Kids.
The AHA says that in addition to limiting intake of table sugar, fructose, and honey, people should watch for labels for brown sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, dextrose, glucose, invert sugar, lactose, malt syrup, maltose, molasses, sucrose, trehalose, and turbinado sugar. Labels of soda, sweet tea, sports drinks and energy drinks should be carefully scrutinized. Even though these guidelines came out 2 years ago, it’s not until July 2018 that the FDA will require that food labels show not just all sugars but also those that were added.
The AHA did not say whether artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, saccharine, and sucralose may be good sugar substitutes. They said there wasn’t enough research to say yes or no. I’ve read enough to know that the artificial substitutes have serous flaws and side effects so I would never recommend them.
In the Comments section of this article an RN, CCN wrote that “Research has shown all of the artificial sweeteners mentioned in this article to negatively impact the gut biome and potentially induce a leaky gut. There are healthier natural, yet non-nutritive, sweeteners such as Swerve, and Lakanto (combo of monk fruit and erythritol). These have no impact on blood sugars OR gut biome, and are generally tolerated quite well. I want health professionals to realize there is a third option between sugar and artificial sweeteners.”
Sugar is the first addiction and besides obesity and diabetes, it causes behavioral problems. Those problems are treated with drugs leading to more side effects and stronger drugs. We owe it to our kids and society to take a long sugar holiday!
Carolyn Dean MD ND
The Doctor of the Future®
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