The culprit sugar of obesity

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By Dr. Victor Dumaguing

To Your Health

Friday, May 24, 2013


OBESITY was an unheard-of clinical entity eons or many years ago when food was scarce, so that people had to literally claw each other to obtain life-sustaining food. Obviously, things have changed although admittedly, there are still parts of the world where starvation and famine exist. However for most parts, including the so-called developing Third World countries, we see more and more folks with excess avoirdupois and only God knows, how many weighing scales these people have wrecked and destroyed after putting both feet on the platform. And to make matters worse, more and more children are either overweight or frankly obese, which scare the wits of pediatric cardiologists.

Of course, we now know for a fact that obesity is not just eating more than we should. There is also the sedentary lifestyle, the house-to-office car delivery, elevators and escalators which take people away from stairs. Oh the list is long- remote control not only of television but almost all household appliances. However, it is also agreed that the food we eat, still constitutes the number cause of obesity.

A study made by the Yale University School of Medicine revealed that fructose, a widely used sweetener, may promote appetite and obesity in people more than glucose can. It is my privilege to share with you the findings of my colleague Ms. Sarah de Leon who wrote that the study involved 20 healthy respondents who underwent two magnetic resonance imaging sessions and recorded the changes in a person's blood flow in brain areas linked to hunger and reward. They were given drinks sweetened with either glucose or fructose.

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The interesting findings include there was a significantly greater reduction in the cerebral blood flow to the hypothalamus with the glucose infusion. The hypothalamus, thalamus, insula, anterior cingulate and corpus striatum are parts of the brain that regulate appetite and reward processing. The team also found that after the glucose ingestion, there was a higher release of hormones that promote fullness or satiety. these hormones include insulin and glucagon-like-peptide l or GLP-1.

Fructose is also known as levulose, the sweetest of all sugars. Also called honey sugar and is widely used as sweetener in fruit juices, soft drinks as well as baked products. Sucrose or table sugar is a disaccharide which when broken down, yields glucose and fructose, which imparts sweetness to it. Glucose is also called grape sugar, also dextrose sugar because it is the one dissolved in dextrose solutions. Glucose is blood sugar, the one being measured to determine how well diabetes mellitus is being managed and controlled.

The authors of the study admit that more studies are needed but also argue that it might be useful for doctors in discussion with their patients about the potential risks associated with excessive fructose consumption.

Next Week: In Search of Ideal Hypertension Medicine

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on May 25, 2013.

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