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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Excess calories, not sugar, make people fat

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NEW YORK (Reuters Health) -- There is no link between obesity and sugar intake, according to two studies presented this week at the North American Association for the Study of Obesity annual meeting in Charleston, South Carolina.
"The bottom line is increased calories are the culprit" behind obesity, not sugar, Dr. Maureen Storey said in an interview with Reuters Health. "Choosing smaller portions is difficult," she added, but "people need to eat less and exercise more."
Storey and Dr. Rich Forshee, of Georgetown University in Washington, DC, studied data from a survey conducted by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). They constructed a model that estimated how closely people follow the USDA Food Guide Pyramid, and the percentage of the US recommended daily allowance of selected nutrients they consume, based on the amount of added sugars, carbohydrates, protein, fat, and alcohol they consume.
According to the model, "added sugars have a minimal... negative effect on consumption of most of the food groups and nutrients," Storey and Forshee report. The researchers found that alcohol had a much larger negative effect on diet than sugars.
"According to our model, it would take 1,695 additional grams of added sugars or 43.5 (12 oz.) cans of soda pop to replace one serving of dairy foods," the investigators explain. In comparison, "an additional 182 grams of alcohol, the equivalent of 14 (12 oz.) cans of beer or 18 (3.5 oz.) glasses of red wine, reduced the predicted number of dairy servings by one."
"Pragmatically, added sugars have virtually no effect on diet quality whereas other dietary components, such as alcohol, have a relatively greater negative impact on diet quality," Storey and Forshee conclude.
In the second study, Dr. D.R. Keast and colleagues, of the Michigan State University in East Lansing, asked nearly 16,000 adults about their consumption of sugar, fat, carbohydrates, and total calories. They also measured the participants' body mass index (weight divided by height).
Keast's group reports that obese adults consumed fewer total calories than non-obese adults, but fat made up a higher percentage of their calories. The obese adults obtained a lower percentage of their calories from carbohydrates and total sugars than the non-obese adults.
These results held true in both men and women, the investigators say. The research team concludes that there is a "seesaw" relationship between sugars and fat: as fat intake goes up, body mass index goes up, but as sugar intake goes up, body mass intake goes down.

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