A sour truth about sweets and obesity

Nutrition

By pH health care professionals

It’s no secret that obesity has been rising in America, and there are millions of people who want to get to the root cause of their weight gain so they can enjoy a healthy life.

According to the CDC, the 2011–2012 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey showed that 33.9 percent of U.S. adults aged 20 and older were overweight, 35.1 percent were obese, and 6.4 percent were extremely obese. Comparatively, in 1988, the number of overweight people was about the same, but the number of obese people was significantly lower at 22 percent. In the 1960s, obesity rates were just 13 percent. Times have changed, and it makes you wonder …

What is going on?

Part of the problem may be the rise of sugar and sweeteners in the food supply.

A review of several studies found a clear association between sugar-sweetened beverages and weight gain. The amount of soda and sweetened-beverage consumption has led to excess weight in children and adults alike.

These excess sugars combine with fatty acids to form extra body fat. Excess fat and weight have been repeatedly shown to be associated with increased risk for blood pressure, heart disease, strokes and even cancer.

What about artificial sweeteners found in low-calorie food options?

Introduction of artificial sweeteners has in some ways led to a lower calorie intake in some people, while others have gained weight. So switching from regular sugar to artificial sweeteners may not be the best weight loss strategy.

Moreover, research shows artificial sweeteners don't provide any nutritional benefits, and they may leave you hungrier! Some studies suggest artificial sweeteners don’t stimulate the brain’s satiety centers. That means the brain continues to “feel hungry” after artificial sweeteners, leading to cravings and urges to eat excess calories, therefore causing weight gain.  

What about natural sweeteners?

There are a variety of natural zero-calorie or low-calorie sweeteners such as sugar alcohols (Erythritol and Xylitol), novel sweeteners (Stevia, Tagatose and Trehalose) and natural sweeteners (agave, date sugar, fruit juice and maple syrup). Natural sweeteners may be healthier, but keep in mind that excess use can still cause weight gain. New products keep popping up on the market; however, more research will be needed to prove their safety and positive health effects.

Be proactive!

  • Minimize intake of artificial sweeteners and sweetened drinks, which may cause you to gain weight.
  • Reduce your sugar cravings by reducing sugar in your diet (it’s habit-forming!).
  • Craving something sweet? Opt for raw fruits – a much healthier alternative.

Enjoy Your Healthy Life!

The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses and certified fitness instructors. To learn more about the pH Health Care Team, click here.

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