Scientists have proved for the first time that a cheap form of sugar used in thousands of food products and soft drinks can damage human metabolism and is fueling the obesity crisis.
Fructose, a sweetener derived from corn, can cause dangerous growths of fat cells around vital organs and is able to trigger the early stages of diabetes and heart disease.
It has increasingly been used as a substitute for more expensive types of sugar in yoghurts, cakes, salad dressing and cereals. Even some fruit drinks that sound healthy contain fructose.
Experts believe that the sweetener — which is found naturally in small quantities in fruit — could be a factor in the emergence of diabetes among children. This week, a new report is expected to claim that about one in 10 children in England will be obese by 2015.
Previous studies of the potentially adverse impact of fructose have focused on rats, but the first experiment involving humans has now revealed serious health concerns.
Over 10 weeks, 16 volunteers on a strictly controlled diet, including high levels of fructose, produced new fat cells around their heart, liver and other digestive organs. They also showed signs of food-processing abnormalities linked to diabetes and heart disease. Another group of volunteers on the same diet, but with glucose sugar replacing fructose, did not have these problems.
Fructose bypasses the digestive process that breaks down other forms of sugar. It arrives intact in the liver where it causes a variety of abnormal reactions, including the disruption of mechanisms that instruct the body whether to burn or store fat.
Via: Health Day:
The onset of puberty is continuing to drop among American girls, with many girls as young as 7 and 8 now showing the beginnings of breast development, new research shows.
Rising rates of childhood obesity — long linked to earlier sexual development — may be to blame, experts say.
In the study, more than 1,200 girls ages 6 to 8 from Cincinnati, East Harlem, N.Y. and San Francisco were examined on two occasions between 2004 and 2006 by two different female pediatricians or nurse practitioners who felt for the presence of breast tissue.
“We wanted to be careful not to mistake fatty deposits for actual breast tissue,” explained study author Dr. Frank Biro, director of adolescent medicine at Cincinnati’s Children’s Hospital.
Among 7-year-olds, about 10.4 percent of white girls, 23.4 percent of black girls and almost 15 percent of Hispanic girls had started developing breasts, the team report in the September issue of Pediatrics. Among 8-year-olds, 18.3 percent of white girls, about 43 percent of black girls and just under 31 percent of Hispanic girls showed evidence of breast development.
The figures suggest a rise in early-onset puberty compared to similar studies conducted earlier.
For 7-year-old white girls, especially, they show a doubling of the rate from as recently as a decade ago, Biro said. One study found that about 5 percent of white 7-year-old girls and 10.5 percent of 8-year-olds were showing breast development.
For black girls, the rate of breast development in that study was 15.4 percent for 7-year-olds and 36.6 percent for 8-year-olds.
The earlier data did not include information on Hispanic girls.
Experts called the findings alarming. In terms of women’s health, early puberty, including younger ages at menarche, or first menstrual cycle, is associated with a higher risk of breast cancer throughout the life span, Biro said.
What’s driving the earlier maturation? Increasing weight at a young age seems to be a main culprit, Biro said. Girls who developed breasts early tended to have a higher body-mass index (BMI) than those who didn’t. Though much is still unknown about how high BMIs kick start puberty, fat cells produce leptin, a hormone involved in the onset of pubertal maturation, Biro noted.
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