Category: Obesity and Weight Loss
Is High-Fructose Corn Syrup Behind the Obesity Epidemic?
For decades, many dieters seeking to shed a few excess pounds have avoided indulging in too many desserts, sugar, and other sweet treats. Though tasty, these foods pack a lot of calories into each bite, with few nutritional benefits to help soften the blow. The irresistible taste of sugary snacks also makes it difficult to say no, presenting a portion-control challenge for wary weight watchers, as well.
While many nutritionists, dieticians, and bariatric specialists agree that sweets should be eliminated from serious weight-loss efforts, some researchers are now contending that another culprit -- a common sweetening agent known as high-fructose corn syrup -- may pose a greater threat in the battle of the bulge.
This sweetener is a byproduct of naturally-sweet corn that has been enhanced to increase its sugary properties. The resulting sweetening agent is now used to add flavor to a staggering array of processed foods, ranging from catsup to sandwich bread.
Although the health impact of high fructose corn syrup remains a topic of heated debate, a growing number of researchers are identifying this sweetener as a possible cause of the unprecedented obesity epidemic now sweeping the United States and other developed nations. This week, we?ll review the findings of several recent studies that have looked at the possible relationship between high fructose corn syrup and weight gain.
Fructose May Play Key Role in Weight Gain
During the last decade, proponents of low-carb diets vilified all carbohydrate-containing foods as equally fattening. However, according to the results of a recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Florida, some carb-laden foods may be worse than others.
Comparing the weight-gain effects of a wide variety of starches and sugary foods and beverages, the researchers found that sugary foods were more likely to promote weight gain than were starchy foods like rice and potatoes. The most pronounced weight-gain effects were associated with foods with high fructose contents, including high-fructose corn syrup.
More specifically, the researchers singled out fructose and fructose-containing food products as being the most dangerous in terms of their ability to spark insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome, two causes of obesity, type II diabetes, and myriad other health problems. They suggested that a fructose index of foods could be used as an important tool in the weight loss process.
Fructose, Sugar Increase Appetite in the Same Manner, Study Shows
It has long been suspected that the appealingly sweet taste of sugary foods often prompt people to overindulge in sweet treats, overriding their bodies' natural hunger mechanisms simply as a means to taste more of the sweet food. However, according to the results of a recent study conducted by scientists at the Nutritional Sciences Program at the University of Washington, fructose and fructose-containing products appear to incite the appetite in much the same way.
In a study that compared the eating habits of individuals consuming sugary and diet sodas and other beverages, it was found that the subjects who drank the sugar- or fructose-containing beverages consumed more calories than those who were served diet drinks. The appetite-stimulating effect held true whether the sweetener used was cane sugar, sucrose, or fructose.
The researchers called for further investigation into the link between fructose, appetite, and obesity. In addition, they cautioned dieters to avoid sweetened beverages when trying to limit total calorie intake.
Drinks Sweetened with Fructose Linked to Obesity, Other Health Problems
There are many variables in the modern diet that differ drastically from the consumption patterns that persisted for millennia. Scientists all over the world have focused their efforts on determining which of these changes has given rise to the obesity epidemic now facing many industrialized nations.
One common variable that has emerged in a recent analysis of world health data is the prevalence of beverages sweetened with fructose and high-fructose corn syrup. A research team affiliated with the University of Barcelona has identified the molecular processes that may link fructose and obesity.
According to the team, fructose works to change the way the body processes lipid energy. Over time, long-term consumption of fructose-consuming products may result in fatty liver and metabolic syndrome. These conditions, in turn, are strongly implicated as precursors of obesity.
The scientists agree that more research will be needed to make a conclusive determination as to the relationship between fructose and obesity. However, in the interim, they suggest that dieters avoid beverages containing the substance.
If you have questions about the health impact of high-fructose corn syrup, talk to your doctor or a licensed nutritionist. Check back each week for more of the research news you need to succeed in your journey toward better health.
Obesity, Diet and Weight Loss News from Around the World
For years, obesity was a problem that plagued primarily affluent Western nations. However, over the course of the last several decades, the process of globalization has changed the diets of people all over the world -- and not always for the better. As Western-style fast food franchises and processed, packaged food products have begun to gain worldwide popularity, more countries are witnessing the advent of obesity problems. The prevalence of obesity and overweight has risen significantly in Asia, which has long been home to lean populations with largely healthy diets.
Although this troubling trend does not bode well for international public health, it has sparked new interest in the study of diet and weight loss-related topics. In recent years, research institutes and teams of scientists hailing from all over the world have contributed significant findings to the growing body of obesity and weight loss research. This week, we?ll take a look at the results of several recent studies published in India and China.
Asia Begins to Grapple With Obesity
As China has made the ascent from gripping poverty to international economic powerhouse over the course of the last several decades, increasing numbers of Chinese men, women, and children have begun to face the problem of obesity. Figures gathered by national health agencies indicate that the rate of obesity has increased by nearly 40% in recent years, with nearly 20% of all children and adolescence now fitting the clinical description for obesity.
This has led the Chinese government to enact a series of measures designed to reverse the obesity trend. Recently, several programs were instituted to increase physical activity among school-aged children, including periods of mandatory dancing during the school day. Other studies have been commissioned attempting to identify the causes of obesity among Chinese youth, the results indicating that wealthier households, along with an increasing abundance of unhealthy foods, were likely the chief culprits.
However, recent studies conducted in China have also indicated that the path away from increasing obesity could be found in at least a partial return to traditional ways of eating. One study found that greater consumption of black tea, green tea, and Oolong tea, all of which are traditional Chinese beverages with ancient roots.
The study indicated that chemical compounds known as polyphenols that are found in all three varieties of the most commonly consumed types of tea can prompt weight loss. The highest concentration of polyphenols can be found in Oolong tea. Luckily for Western dieters, this tea can now be found on the shelves of many American and European grocery stores, as well, making it easy for everyone to make use of the natural fat-fighting properties of this traditional Asian beverage.
India?s Growing Affluence Sparks Obesity
The obesity epidemic has also made a significant impact in India in recent years. Like China, much of India has long been mired in dire poverty. However, as a result of the process of globalization, India?s economic might has increased considerably in recent years. Today, employment is at an all-time high, and many young Indians are comfortably employed in high-paying positions in the growing technology industry.
The downside of this trend is the rapidly increasing rate of obesity in the country. Government health statistics indicate that a whopping 50% of the adult population in India is over their ideal body weight range, with 20% meeting the government?s standards for clinical obesity. Among affluent children and adolescents, the obesity rates hover around 10%, even as many poorer children continue to suffer from food insecurity and malnutrition.
A number of studies recently conducted in India demonstrate the significant toll that the growing obesity epidemic has had upon the public health in that country. For example, studies published in the last several years have linked obesity to increases in the prevalence of health problems such as asthma, Type 2 diabetes, back problems, and chronic pain.
Although impoverished countries face daunting public health challenges of their own, the health problems that are being encountered by countries on the rise, such as India and China, are also dire. Still, if a silver lining can be found in the growing rate of obesity in these countries, it may be that the increased research focus on obesity and weight loss will result in future breakthroughs that will facilitate weight loss for people struggling with obesity all over the world.
All content Copyright © 2007-2010 EasyDietCenter.com and can not be reproduced without written permission from EasyDietCenter.com.