Colette's Blog

The Tipping Point in Research: Overexposure to Added Sugars Comes with Health Risks

September 16, 2015

Dr. Atkins was ahead of his time when it came to demonizing sugar. When U.S. Dietary Guidelines a decade ago were recommending that individuals could safely consume up to 25% of their calories in added sugar, Dr. Atkins knew this was contributing to a whole host of health risks: obesity, heart disease, diabetes and more. And this continues to be supported by research.

In a study in JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers analyzed national data from the past 20 years and found that the 10 percent of people who consumed the most added sugar (25 percent or more of daily calories) were almost three times more likely to die from cardiovascular disease than those consuming the least (less than 10 percent of daily calories), while those with intermediate sugar consumption had a one-third higher risk, on average. Elevated risk was seen regardless of body weight, physical activity level, age, sex, race/ethnicity, overall diet quality, and many other factors.

And the research continues to show that too much sugar is not good. In a Swedish study in the Journal of Nutrition, people who drank at least two cups of sugary beverages a day were about 20 percent more likely to suffer a stroke than those who rarely drank them. And in an analysis of data from 12 clinical trials, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, New Zealand researchers found that relatively high sugar intakes increased blood pressure by 6 to 8 points, on average. In fact, added sugar probably contributes more to hypertension than sodium does, concluded a review paper in the journal Open Heart. And it goes on and on.

Sugary beverages, especially those containing high-fructose corn syrup, continue to be linked to elevated cholesterol, increased risk of diabetes and obesity-related deaths. Thanks to all this research, the new proposed U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommends limiting added sugar consumption to no more than 10% of a person’s daily calorie intake. While it’s encouraging to see how research can have an impact on our dietary guidelines, is the 10% recommendation even low enough? On Atkins, you are asked to avoid added sugars as much as possible, and many have experienced incredible results upon doing this… weight loss and decreased risk of heart disease and diabetes, while eliminating sugar cravings and those dreaded blood sugar highs and lows. Something to consider!

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