New Research Shows How Sugary Drinks Are Probably Harming Children As Young As 2 To 5 Years Old…

18 Apr

Earlier this year, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed a ban that would stop restaurants, delis, movie theaters, food carts, and stadiums from selling certain sugary drinks in containers larger than 16 ounces as a way to help combat obesity in the city. As you can imagine, there was enormous public and political backlash.

Eventually, an appeals court ruled against the proposed ban just before it could go into effect, citing that it was an overreach of executive power. While it may not be Mayor Bloomberg’s place to tell you or your children not to drink sugary drinks, research has tightly linked sugar-sweet beverage consumption to weight gain among older children. But what about younger children?

New research published in Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, studied 9,600 children from birth to age five. The

researchers found correlations between sugary drink consumption by children as young as two years old and weight gain in later years. The drinks examined in the study were sodas, sports drinks, and any other sugar-added beverages or juice drinks that were not 100 percent juice.

Because of the study’s size and length of follow- up, many experts believe the information to be very valuable.

According to Dr. Dyan Hes, Medical Director of Gramercy Pediatrics in Manhattan, who has been lobbying for public policies like soda taxes that would make these drinks less attractive to families, “It’s a fantastic study because we need more evidence… We know that sugar-sweetened beverages are the greatest contributor to increased obesity in young children because they’re cheap. It shows that by giving your children sugar-sweetened beverages

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by age two, you’ve already set up habits that are very hard to break.”

Here’s what is really important about this study: The study did not find that two year olds who drank at least one sugar-sweetened drink to be any heavier than other two year olds. But, drinking just one sugary drink per day did set those toddlers up for weight gain in the near future. In fact, the children who drank at least one sugary drink per day were already heavier by the age of five.

According to Scientific America: In fact, they were 1.43 times more likely to be obese than preschoolers who consumed sugary drinks less than daily, even after accounting for other factors that could influence weight gain. Mark DeBoer, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Virginia, says the findings support the hypothesis that regular consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages has a cumulative effect over time. “We were struck by this data that even at a very young age, the sugar- sweetened beverages contribute to weight gain… and we wanted to put this information out for pediatricians and for families to help them make healthier choices for their children.”

Why Do Sugary Drinks Cause So Much Weight Gain?

The answer to that question is most likely two- fold. First, is simple caloric intake.

Sugary drinks are full of “empty calories.” In other words, they contain very little (if any) nutritional value but are high in calories. These calories, because they are liquid, do not make you feel full. So someone drinking all these empty calories will still need to eat solid food to feel full, increasing the total amount of calories consumed in a day. The second reason is how your body chemically reacts to sugar. These types of drinks are usually loaded with fructose. Fructose can be harmful to your body by setting up the conditions for not only obesity, but also diabetes.

This “junk sugar” unstabilizes blood sugar levels and makes your pancreas work overtime. Your pancreas is the organ responsible for secreting the hormone insulin so the sugar in your blood stream can be absorbed by cells. After years of sugar consumption, the pancreas may “wear out” and an individual could become a type 2 diabetic.

Many type 2 diabetics start taking insulin injections when the better solution for many may to manage their blood sugar levels may simply be proper diet and exercise. However, the best solution is to prevent the condition altogether by limiting consumption of bad sugar, such as sugary drinks (along with a proper diet and regular, moderate exercise).

Here Is Something Disturbing…

A UCLA study published in the Journal of Physiology is the first to show how a steady diet high in fructose can damage your memory and learning. Researchers investigated the effects of high-fructose syrup. It’s similar to high-fructose corn syrup, a cheap sweetener six times sweeter than cane sugar which is used in most soft drinks, processed foods, condiments, and even many baby foods.

They fed rats a fructose solution instead of clean drinking water for six weeks. Then, they tested their ability to remember the way out of a maze.

The results were quite shocking. The rats fed fructose syrup struggled to negotiate the maze, demonstrating significant impairment in their cognitive abilities. They were slower and their brains showed a decline in synaptic activity. Their brain cells had trouble signaling each other, disrupting the rats’ ability to think clearly and recall the route they’d learned six weeks earlier.

Additionally, the fructose-fed rats showed signs of resistance to insulin, a hormone that controls your blood sugar and synaptic function in your brain.

Researchers concluded that a high-fructose diet negatively affects the way the brain functions. According to Dr. Fernando Gomez-Pinilla, a Professor of Neurosurgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and a Professor of Integrative Biology and Physiology in the UCLA College of Letters and Science, “Our findings illustrate that what you eat affects how you think… Eating a high-fructose diet over the long-term alters your brain’s ability to learn and remember information.”

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