The Sugar/Obesity Connection

In ancient times, sugar was regarded not as something to be avoided but rather as a cure-all for anything that ailed you. In every culture, sweetness has a symbolism related to goodness. It was valued so highly partly because it was so rare, obtainable mostly in tiny quantities as honey. Now, we demonize it, and yet we can’t seem to stop gorging on it. Few plants have caused more human misery than sugar cane — through obesity, tooth decay, and Type 2 diabetes. Yet despite everything we now know about the harm caused by sugar and other modern sweeteners, such as high-fructose corn syrup, it never stops being something we seem to delight in.

There’s no doubt that sugar adds to the prevalence of obesity in America. Therefore, every food product that includes sugar may be contributing to the scope and costs of the obesity epidemic, accelerating the volume of premature deaths among millions of people in the United States.

Obesity and overweight rates have steadily grown. Type 2 diabetes, once unheard of among kids or even young adults, now is an increasingly common diagnosis among children. Obesity and obesity-related diseases have become the world’s leading killer.

Fortunately, sugar affects all of us differently, and for many people it is neither addictive or deadly. Just like many other substances that carry inherent risk, sugar can be safely used in moderation by most people without wreaking havoc on their lives or contributing to their premature deaths.

While calories from any food have the potential to increase the risk of obesity and other cardiometabolic diseases, nutrition researchers agree that sugar-sweetened beverages play a unique role in chronic health problems. The disease risk increases even when the beverages are consumed within diets that do not result in weight gain.

Doctors have long suspected sugar is not simply a source of excess calories but a fundamental cause of obesity and type 2 diabetes. But until recently, fat consumption and total energy balance have dominated the debate about obesity and the nature of a healthy diet.

Official estimates are that one in 11 people in the United States has diabetes, and latest diabetes-1724617__340estimates suggest that obesity and diabetes may now cost the US healthcare system as much as 1 billion dollars per day. In 2016, World Health Organization (WHO) director general Margaret Chan described the twin epidemics of obesity and diabetes worldwide as a “slow-motion disaster” — and suggested that the likelihood of preventing the current “bad situation” from getting “much worse” was “virtually zero.”

The past decade has seen a renewed interest in the possibility that calorific sweeteners — particularly sugar and high fructose syrups — have major roles in causing obesity and diabetes, and major public health organizations are now recommending strict limits to the consumption of these sugars. Much of the current discussion about sugar focuses on the effects of excess energy intake and weight gain, and the subsequent risk of diabetes, heart disease, cancer and some forms of dementia. But while being overweight or obese increases your risk of these diseases, excess weight is not a prerequisite.

While the development of diseases is no doubt also based on genes and lifestyle factors other than diet, the evidence of the potential harms of high-sugar diets is accumulating. It’s certainly compelling enough for many to consider limiting how much sugar we eat and drink. Whether or not the sugar itself is the culprit, sugary foods are linked to health problems, and that should be reason enough to cut down.

If you’re looking for ways to treat severe obesity, schedule an appointment with VIPSurg. Drs. Tsuda and Ryan and their team of experts can help find the right treatment for you.

Sugary Beverages and Their Role in Obesity and Metabolic Syndrome

These days, soft drinks are the beverage of choice for millions of Americans and others around the world. Consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs), which include soft drinks, fruit drinks, iced tea, and energy and vitamin water drinks has risen across the globe. In addition to the obvious drawback of weight gain, higher consumption of SSBs is associated with the development of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.

In the U.S. between the late 1970s and 2006, the per capita consumption of SSBs increased from 64.4 to 141.7 kcal/day, representing more than a twofold increase. Of particular concern is the rapid trajectory of increase evident in many developing countries where access to SSBs has grown right along with rising rates of urbanization. Sales figures from Coca Cola’s 2007 annual report show that during 2007, India and China experienced growths of 14 and 18%, respectively, in the volume of beverages sold, showing substantial increases in sales at the population level.

According to the World Health Association (WHO), metabolic syndrome and diabetes are responsible for 19 million deaths each year. Knowing that sugar consumption is associated with these conditions, the public should take steps to reduce their intake.

People who regularly consume 1 to 2 cans or more of sugary drinks per day have a 26% greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes than people who rarely have such drinks.

A study that followed 40,000 men for two decades found that those who averaged one can of a sugary beverage per day had a 20% higher risk of having a heart attack or dying from a heart attack than men who rarely consumed sugary drinks. A related study in women found a similar sugary beverage–heart disease link.

People who drink a lot of sugary drinks often tend to weigh more and perhaps eat less healthfully than people who don’t drink sugary drinks. However, studies show that having an otherwise healthy diet or being at a healthy weight only slightly lessens the risks associated with drinking SSBs.

Because SSBs are often consumed in large amounts and tend to raise blood glucose and soda and computer and phoneinsulin concentrations rapidly and dramatically, they have been shown to contribute to a high dietary glycemic load. High glycemic load diets induce glucose intolerance and insulin resistance particularly among overweight individuals and can increase levels of inflammatory biomarkers such as C-reactive protein, which are linked to type 2 diabetes risk.

The exact amount of sugar intake that increases the risk of diabetes and metabolic syndrome is still unknown at this point. Nevertheless, medical experts agree that consuming large amounts of sugar poses a health threat. But how much sugar intake per day is considered too much? The WHO recommends no more than 9 teaspoons per day for men and 6 teaspoons per day for women.

The message is to be careful about the amounts of sugar-sweetened beverages you drink, and be mindful of sugar content. Prolonged intake of high amounts of sugar can contribute to metabolic syndrome onset with time. Lowering sugar-sweetened beverage and sugar intake should form part of a multi-pronged approach to living a healthy lifestyle which includes increased exercise, a balanced diet, and lower stress levels.

If you are in the Las Vegas area and are suffering from the problems associated with obesity and metabolic syndrome, call VIP Surg at 702-487-6000. Dr. Tsuda and his team can team of experts can help.