IS SUGAR KILLING OUR KIDS?

By Dev K. Mishra, M.D., President, Sideline Sports Doc, Clinical Assistant Professor of Orthopedic Surgery, Stanford University

Key Points:

  • Processed sugar and high fructose corn syrup are likely responsible for a number of negative health issues, such as obesity and metabolic syndrome
  • Create a lifetime healthy habit by eliminating processed sugars from a kid’s diet, whether athlete or not

This week I’d like to highlight a brief and excellent article by Gary Taubes that appeared sugarrecently in the Wall Street Journal, titled “Is Sugar Killing Us?” This article is a summary of some of Taubes’ key findings to be expanded upon in his coming book about the dangers of processed sugar. His premise in a nutshell: processed sugar (such as granular white sugar and high fructose corn syrup) is responsible for a myriad number of ills in the human body, most significantly obesity and diabetes.

I first came across Taubes’ work back in 2002 when he published an article on the cover of the New York Times magazine that featured a photo of a big juicy steak covered in butter and the title was “Fat Doesn’t Make Us Fat”. I remember reading the article and thinking he was nuts. Everybody knows that fat is the evil, avoid it and you won’t get clogged arteries and you won’t get fat. Right? Furthermore, I grew up believing the body treated all calories equally. Which was why as a college student I ate at least two bowls of Cap’n Crunch every morning for four years…

Fast forward 14 years and Taubes’ opinions look to be far closer to the truth. Processed sugar is the likely key factor in increased fat accumulation in the body, a principal trigger to the development of metabolic syndrome in adults, and many other life affecting health issues. It’s pretty clear that there are substantially more bad things that can happen to you from consuming processed sugar and high fructose corn syrup than good.

To be clear, I’d like to separate naturally occurring carbohydrates such as those found in ssd.bannerfruits and vegetables from processed sugar. There are many anti-carb zealots that eliminate most fruits from their diets because of the insulin response the carbs in the fruit creates, but for young athletes and kids who are not athletes I’d strongly recommend including multiple fruits and vegetables in a normal diet. There is no responsible child nutritionist who would eliminate fruits and vegetables from a child’s diet. So when Taubes refers to “sugars” he’s mainly referring to white granular processed sugar, and high fructose corn syrup.

This post was a significant diversion from my usual posts about youth sports health, but this topic is huge for all of us. Sugar will kill us. I’m a believer.