I discussed some of the reasons for this, but there is one factor, and one factor alone, that is the main cause for it: sweets – sugar and high-fructose corn syrup.
Back in 1977, average daily consumption of fructose was about 37 grams per person per day.
Recent surveys show that it’s up to 54.7 grams, or about 10 percent of total caloric intake. And for teenagers – who consume a ton of sodas – fructose intake averages a whopping 72.8 grams, the equivalent of 18 spoonfuls of the stuff every single day.
Why should we care? It’s deadly. Fructose is one of the worst sweeteners you can possibly consume and it’s making our children obese.
Table sugar (sucrose) is made up of fructose and glucose. Studies that compare the effect of these two simple sugars (glucose and fructose) consistently show that it is the fructose part of table sugar that does the most damage, raising triglycerides and creating insulin resistance.
And there are a few food categories that are packed with these deadly sweeteners and heavily marketed to children.
If you recall the article I wrote about Kellogg’s promoting their obscenely sweetened with sugar and high fructose corn syrup breakfast cereal, Cocoa Krispies, as a healthful food, you can see how difficult it is for most people to realize the dangers of sugar when they’re up against a marketing behemoth that will stop at nothing to lure you into the unhealthy lifestyle that living a High Density Lifestyle is.
Besides the breakfast cereals, another food category that is playing a major role in the obesity epidemic are high-calorie soft drinks and fruit-flavored drinks.
“Roughly 15 or 20 years ago, we had an explosion in the availability of these beverages,” says Dr. Robert Keith, an Alabama Cooperative Extension System nutritionist. “Sure, they were around two decades ago, but certainly not to the degree they are today.”
“They’re everywhere, and they come in these attractive packages that are highly marketable,” he says. “And because you don’t have to refrigerate them, they can be stuck in a backpack and consumed anytime during the day.”
Few would deny the convenience associated with these products. But with this convenience comes a highly “concentrated source of calories,” Keith says. And when consumed in large amounts day in and day out, the end result is often obesity.
“Children up to age 11 need between 1,200 and 1,500 calories a day,” Keith says. “Only four of these beverages typically add up to between 400 and 600 calories, so many children are deriving up to a third or even half of their daily caloric intake from these products.”
Studies have confirmed a high correlation between heavy consumption of these drinks and obesity. Indeed, children who consume large amounts of these beverages tend to have higher body weights and higher levels of body fat.
Equally bad, the crowding out of other foods associated with over-consumption of these products is also depriving children of other vital nutrients.
“By consuming a third or even a half of their calories from these drinks, kids are causing the hunger mechanism in their brains to become partly quenched,” Keith says. “The result is that they’re less hungry, and with less hunger, they’re apt to eat fewer fruits, vegetables and other nutritious foods.”
“They are getting the calories but very little nutritional value.”
What can be done to reverse this dangerous trend?
“You really can’t make kids eat nutritious foods without limiting the intake of these beverages, because this will only contribute to obesity,” Keith says.
Instead, he says parents first should limit their children’s intake of high-calorie drinks to only one or two a day and replace additional consumption with milk, water or pure fruit juice.
Pure fruit juice, however, should be somewhat restricted in cases where the children already are obese.