Sugar is often stated as the causal factor contributing to obesity. Sugar is mostly empty calories and excessive consumption of it can lead to increase in fat. That's why we see many adults cutting back on sugary foods or giving them up altogether to stay fit. Children, however, are allowed to eat to their heart's content without bothering about the amount of sugar intake. Of course, metabolism rate is high at a young age and it is digested easily without adding up to the body weight. But, what we don't know is that the high-sugar foods eaten decades ago during childhood can show up much later in adulthood in the form of obesity.
According to a new study published by the researchers at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, current obesity rates in adults in the United States could be the result of dietary changes that took place decades ago. The findings of the study were published in the journal ‘Science Direct'.
We always focus on present-day diet and eating behaviour to determine the bodily health and fitness level. This study took calculative steps in analysing earlier diet pattern during childhood and checked how it affected obesity levels years later.
(Also Read: 5 Foods High In Sugar That You Must Avoid)
Alex Bentley, head of UT's Department of Anthropology and lead researcher of the study said, “U.S. diets were transformed, including the addition of sugars to industrially-processed foods. While excess sugar has often been implicated in the dramatic increase in U.S. adult obesity over the past 30 years, an unexplained question is why the increase in obesity took place many years after the increases in U.S. sugar consumption. To address this, here we explain adult obesity increase as the cumulative effect of increased sugar calories consumed over time.”
The researchers compared obesity rates with annual sugar consumption since 1970s till the year 2015. They noticed a sudden rise in adult obesity after 1990 that reflected the delayed effects of excessive sugar consumed among children of the 1970s and 1980s.
“In our model, which uses annual data on U.S. sugar consumption as the input variable, each age cohort inherits the obesity rate in the previous year plus a simple function of the mean excess sugar consumed in the current year,” Alex Bentley added.