`We've strong ev­i­dence that eat­ing sugar con­trib­utes to heart dis­ease'

Down to Earth - - HEALTH - For­com­pletein­ter­view­goto www.down­toearth.org.in

KIM­BER STAN­HOPE, nu­tri­tional bi­ol­o­gist at the Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, US, has car­ried out ex­per­i­ments on peo­ple com­par­ing health ef­fects of fruc­tose with those of glu­cose and high fruc­tose corn syrup, which is part glu­cose and part fruc­tose. In an in­ter­view to AR­CHANA YADAV she shares the find­ings. Ex­cerpts Your study shows fruc­tose has unique ef­fects on the body. Are th­ese sig­nif­i­cant enough to cause meta­bolic dis­eases in the long term? To prove that sugar is caus­ing a par­tic­u­lar dis­ease we have to rely on diet in­ter­ven­tion stud­ies. When you do such a study the best you can look at is a risk fac­tor be­cause no­body eth­i­cally can do a study in which the in­ten­tion is to cause hu­man sub­jects to de­velop a dis­ease. Our first study, pub­lished in 2009, sug­gests com­pared to glu­cose, fruc­tose causes in­creased lipid lev­els, in­creased fat-mak­ing in the liver and it re­duces in­sulin sen­si­tiv­ity. It also ap­pears to have a unique ef­fect by which the ex­cess fat gained dur­ing the con­sump­tion of fruc­tose-sweet­ened bev­er­age gets de­posited in vis­ceral adi­pose. Now vis­ceral adi­pose is the fat con­tained within the ab­dom­i­nal cav­ity and that fat is more as­so­ci­ated with meta­bolic dis­ease risk fac­tors than the fat de­posited un­der the skin. Since then we have shown that when younger, health­ier sub­jects eat high lev­els of fruc­tose or high fruc­tose corn syrup, their lipid fac­tors rise in two weeks. Is it okay to con­sume lots of car­bo­hy­drates if one elim­i­nates sugar? That is dif­fi­cult to know for sure be­cause at this point many of the stud­ies that sug­gest car­bo­hy­drate con­sump­tion is re­lated to meta­bolic dis­ease did not sep­a­rate the ef­fects of sugar ver­sus the ef­fects of bread, rice and grain. My sub­jects con­sume white bread, white rice, white pasta, not whole grain. When I take away those car­bo­hy­drates and in­stead add the sugar, I see in­creased risk fac­tors. My data shows very clearly sugar is a big­ger prob­lem com­pared to white bread, pasta and rice. Is sugar an in­de­pen­dent risk fac­tor for heart dis­ease? If we put to­gether pop­u­la­tion stud­ies that show as­so­ci­a­tions be­tween sugar con­sump­tion and heart dis­ease, and look at the diet in­ter­ven­tion stud­ies that show in­creased risk fac­tors when we re­place the food that peo­ple eat with sugar, I'd say we have a very strong body of ev­i­dence that sugar con­sump­tion con­trib­utes to heart dis­ease. Some of that data sug­gests it is in­de­pen­dent of weight gain. My data cer­tainly sug­gests there is in­crease in risk fac­tors even if sub­jects do not gain weight. But I would like to do a study where sub­jects are pro­vided with meals (with ei­ther high or low amounts of sugar) that con­tain ex­actly their en­ergy re­quire­ment, so none gains weight. That would be the de­fin­i­tive ev­i­dence.

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