Thanks, science. It’s bad enough that you had to tell us that bacon is almost as bad for us as smoking (we knew it wasn’t health food!), but just a few days before Halloween, and on the cusp of the holiday season, you tell us that sugar is toxic.

Not only is the main ingredient in candy corn and candy canes bad for your teeth and packed with calories, it also contributes to type 2 diabetes and other metabolic disorders.

The good news, researchers tell us, is that all the obese children in their study who dramatically cut back on their sugar intake saw a dramatic improvement in blood pressure, cholesterol and other health markers after just 10 days.

The doctors who conducted the study replaced the calories that the children would have consumed when they were binging on sweets so they could test if what the soft drink manufacturers claim is true: All calories are created equal and sugary food can be part of a healthy diet.

But the researchers found that some calories are more equal than others. Obese children who cut their sugar intake started getting healthier right away, even though they were eating the same number of calories.

“This study definitively shows that sugar is metabolically harmful not because of its calories or its effects on weight; rather, sugar is metabolically harmful because it’s sugar,” said study author Robert Lustig.

Criticism of the study already has emerged, and not just from expected sources — the Sugar Institute and 8-year-olds. The sample was small, they say, and the fact that the children’s health improved when they cut back on sugar doesn’t mean that it was sugar that made them sick. More research is needed, but these results are so explosive that they can’t be dismissed easily.

But don’t blame Halloween, the treats that follow Thanksgiving dinner, or the leftover stocking-stuffers.

Depending on who’s counting, Americans eat upwards of 75 pounds of sugar each year on a per capita basis, and not even the most dedicated holiday partier will ever eat that much in one night.

It’s not an occasional indulgence, but the routine consumption of sugar-rich foods and drinks that contributes to chronic health conditions among children and adults.

So kids, enjoy your candy, but keep it a treat; parents, reconsider daily servings of soft drinks and sweet snacks; and science, get back to work on studies like that one where you told us that wine is good for our hearts.


Comments are not available on this story.

filed under:

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.