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Obesity Doubles Childs Risk of Diabetes - Study Found Half of the Children are Twice as likely to become Diabetic

February 3rd 2006

Obesity Doubles Childs Risk of Diabetes - Study Found Half of the Children are Twice as likely to become Diabetic

Kaufman's Book

A new study says that overweight children are twice as likely to develop diabetes as normal weight children.  Although few children in the study had diabetes, their risk factors were “very high”. 

The study included 1,740 eighth-graders from 12 U.S. schools.  They found that half of the children were either overweight or on the verge of becoming overweight.  Being overweight is one of the primary risk factors for type-2 diabetes. 

Of these children, 41 percent had elevated blood sugar levels and 36 percent had high levels of insulin.  Insulin is a hormone that helps process blood sugar.  High insulin and blood sugar levels signal that the body is becoming resistant to insulin.  This is a precursor to type-2 diabetes.  These tests were taken after fasting.


Type-2 diabetes has often been associated with older adults.  This study concerns the researchers because the same diabetic risk factors are now showing up in children.  The study included a large number of Hispanic and Native American children.  These are ethnic groups that have a particularly high rate of type 2 diabetes, according to Reuters.  These children also had the highest fasting blood sugar levels. 

The study did not make a distinction between type-2 and type-1 diabetes, according to the Ivanhoe website, but it does give extra ammunition to groups that want to ban soft drink vending machines from schools.  The earlier children develop diabetes the earlier they develop the serious complications associated with the disease.  These complications include heart disease, kidney failure and nerve damage.


Sodas contain high fructose corn syrup.  According to the Active.com website, “our bodies treat high fructose corn syrup more like a fat than a sugar”.  They think it may even trigger metabolic changes, tricking us to eat more and store more fat.  According to Peter Havel, a nutrition researcher at the University of California, Davis, who has studied the metabolic effects of fructose, several hormones involved in the regulation of body weight do not respond to fructose as they do to other types of sugars, such as glucose.

The experts agree that the diets of kids should include healthier foods.  Kids “should return to physical activity at school,” according to study co-author Dr. Francine Kaufman of Children's Hospital Los Angeles.


We received this comment on this article February 7th:

The article unfortunately mischaracterizes high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), a natural product derived from U.S. corn fields, by suggesting that the body processes it differently than other nutritive sweeteners. We agree that obesity and diabetes are serious health concerns and think it is important for consumers to have science-based information to make educated choices.

There is no research specifically conducted on HFCS showing that "our bodies treat high fructose corn syrup more like a fat than a sugar." Several researchers who have studied the effects of fructose claim that the body processes HFCS differently than other sugars due to the fructose content. Conclusions from these studies cannot be extrapolated to HFCS. That is because the studies looked at the effects of fructose independently.

HFCS contains approximately equal ratios of fructose and glucose. Table sugar also contains equal ratios of fructose and glucose. As noted by the Food and Drug Administration in 1996, "the saccharide composition (glucose to fructose ratio) of HFCS is approximately the same as that of honey, invert sugar and the disaccharide sucrose (or table sugar)."

The absence of glucose makes pure fructose fundamentally different from HFCS. This is because glucose has been shown to have a tempering effect on specific metabolic effects of fructose. Once the combination of glucose and fructose found in HFCS and sucrose are absorbed into the blood stream, the two types of sweetener appear to be metabolized similarly using well-characterized metabolic pathways.

HFCS can be enjoyed as part of a balanced diet. In 1983, the FDA listed HFCS as "Generally Recognized as Safe" (known as GRAS status) for use in food, and reaffirmed that ruling in 1996. According to the American Dietetic Association, "Consumers can safely enjoy a range of nutritive and nonnutritive sweeteners when consumed in a diet that is guided by current federal nutrition recommendations ... as well as individual health goals."

Audrae Erickson, President
Corn Refiners Association
1701 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C.  20006


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