We know right before Halloween is not exactly the ideal time to tell you that cutting back on sugar for just 10 days can improve children’s health, but keep that nugget in mind as those candy bags are filled (and then unloaded into your child’s mouth). A new study in the journal Obesity involved 43 African-American and Hispanic children who were already high-risk for metabolic disorders and diabetes and were already obese. For 10 days, the children, aided by the help of dietitians, reduced the amount of sugar in their diet from a whopping 28% of their daily calories to the recommended 10% without changing their overall caloric intake. For reference, the average American consumes about 15% of their daily calories from sugar — and children often eat much more than that. Weight was not greatly affected at the end of the study (since caloric intake didn’t vary), but the children showed lower blood pressure (by five points), lower “bad” cholesterol levels (by 10 points), and lower triglycerides (by 33 points) as well as better scores on two tests that asses for Type 2 diabetes. Although the design of the study involved replacing the sugary foods that the children would typically eat with starchy foods (such as giving children bagels instead of sugar-sweetened yogurt or providing additional sources of fruit), it would be fascinating to see the effect of replacing the sugary foods with unprocessed foods including salads, cooked greens, or more healthful grains. A longer study could also lead to some potentially powerful health changes for the involved children and could perhaps influence parents and policymakers regarding the urgency of children’s health education. The small, but robust study is considered an important one for showing that not all calories are equal nor do they have the same effect on the body and that reducing added sugars is a key step in improving pediatric health. Kind of makes you want to get rid of all those Halloween goodies, doesn’t it?

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via The New York Times

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