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Too much of a focus on reducing sugar consumption results in “sugar-fat seesaw”

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Posted July 14, 2016

Fight against obesity is a wide-spread topic in modern media as well as in academic research. Although no one is saying that there are simple answers to this world-wide problem, usually sugar is viewed as the biggest enemy. Now, however, scientists from the University of Glasgow that campaigns for healthier lifestyle should not be focused solely against sugar.

Although we should cut on sugar in order to avoid being overweight, we should focus more on reducing overall calories. Image credit: Amy via Flickr, CC BY 2.0

Although we should cut on sugar in order to avoid being overweight, we should focus more on reducing overall calories. Image credit: Amy via Flickr, CC BY 2.0

Simple explanation is that constantly telling people that sugar consumption has to be lowered leaves other factors, such as overall calories, including the ones from fat, in the margins. This research analysed the data from 132,479 people from across the UK. Not only participants completed online diet questionnaires, but also had their measurements taken at a clinic. Most of the participants were overweight or obese – 66% of men and 52% of women.

The problem of obesity is so important that officials are trying to address it by introducing such tools as the sugar tax. Although it is very important, especially having in mind sugary drinks, which provide a lot of calories without satisfying hunger, it does not take into account the fact fat makes the biggest contribution to the overall calorie intake, which was revealed by this new study.

Scientists found that body mass index of the participants of the research was mostly influenced by overall calories and calories from fat. Healthy people proportionally get more calories from sugar than fat in comparison with obese people. This is why campaigns should stress reduction of overall calories intake rather than one group of foods, because people tend to compensate lack of sugar with more fat – the phenomenon is called “sugar-fat seesaw”.

Jason Gill, co-lead author of the paper, said: “People who are overweight and obese consume more calories than those who are normal weight. But they consume a smaller proportion of these calories from sugar and a larger proportion from fat. Thus it is important not to simply focus on reducing sugar intake; we need to emphasise reductions in fat intake as well”.

Although this study is trying to address public efforts to fight obesity, everyone should take notice personally. Eliminating one group of food is not a solution and a better diet and eating habits is the way to go.

Source: gla.ac.uk

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