It's been a rough week. First, we were told red and processed meats could lead to cancer, and now, a new paper warns that sugar is slowly killing us, too. Because everything sucks.
Everybody knows that sugary foods and drinks aren't good for you (just ask Leslie Knope), but the research, published Monday in the journal Obesity, suggests that sugar is actually a much bigger threat to health than previously thought. Experts led by Dr. Robert Lustig of the University of California, San Francisco concluded that eating sugar could cause such health issues as high blood pressure and heart disease -- even if you don't gain weight from it, according to a report by The Guardian.
And as TIME reports, Lustig and his colleagues believe the findings amount to sufficient evidence that our beloved sugar "is toxic." Well, crap.
In the study, Lustig and the team of researchers analyzed the health of 43 obese children after replacing the sugar in their diets with starchy foods -- like pizza and chips -- for 10 days. Even though the kids ate the same amount of calories, Lustig said the team was "astonished" by the results: their health improved -- by a lot.
Specifically, Lustig wrote in The Guardian:
"Diastolic blood pressure decreased by five points. Blood fat levels dropped precipitously. Fasting glucose decreased by five points, glucose tolerance improved markedly, insulin levels fell by 50%. In other words we reversed their metabolic disease in just 10 days, even while eating processed food, by just removing the added sugar and substituting starch, and without changing calories or weight."
This is all to say that sugar does more damage than through calories alone. However, some experts have cast doubt on the study's findings, saying the dramatic improvements in the patients' health the researchers observed were likely due to weight loss from the change in their diets. Additionally, some say the study was too small and lacked control by allowing the children to self-report their previous, or usual, food intake, per the TIME report.
But still, we all know deep down that those glorious fistfuls of chocolate-covered bacon aren't going to make us live forever. Well, maybe unless you're this Brooklyn woman.
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Tony Merevick is Cities News Editor at Thrillist and thinks Leslie Knope would approve of this study. Send news tips to firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @tonymerevick.