The poor mouse is often the victim used to find out some pretty good or pretty bad health information for humans. In this case, the results are not happy news…..for people who love soda and sugary drinks, that is. A study released on August 13 in the journal Nature Communications suggests that consuming the equivalent of a basically healthy American diet and then adding 3 sodas per day (or the equivalent of that amount of sugar), instigated death at twice the normal rate among male and female mice, and the male mice were 25% less likely to hold their territory and to reproduce. The researchers concluded that “added sugars consumed at concentrations normally considered safe, may exert a dramatic and adverse impact on our health.” In prior studies, very large amounts of sugar were fed to mice and health impact was observed to be adverse. But this particular study seems to suggest that consuming sugar in amounts that we have identified as somewhat “normal” or at minimum pretty standard among average Americans, can have a significantly unhealthy and worrisome impact. In the study, the mice did not become obese, nor did they seem to show metabolic symptoms, in terms of blood sugar or other disease risk factor measurements. They simply died more often, and tended to have fewer babies.
The study results were obvious enough to nudge the senior author of the study to immediately reduce his own refined sugar intake and that of his family. What is my personal recommendation? Parents need to wake up and begin to assess all the refined sugar in the foods their family (and they) are eating and cut back – significantly. They also need to define treats and limit the timing and frequency of treats. Refined sugar should top the list of “treat qualifications.” They also need to cook more at home because then you can control the amount of sugar, salt, fat in the food you serve, and you can more easily control portion sizes. If we continue to let our kids eat regular servings of highly refined and processed foods, knowing that many of the choices are downright harmful to their health, then we are contributing to serious health issues and quite possibly the earlier death of our kids. Is that really your intention?
Part two of the discussion is what you are inherently doing to your own body, that can contribute to a child’s lifetime state of health, and the timing of their death. It sounds like a moribund subject, but the truth of the matter is that women are making decisions prior to getting pregnant and during pregnancy, which may have a deleterious impact on their offspring’s health. You can routinely ask an obstetrician to list the drugs you need to avoid before conception or during pregnancy. But the discussion of a woman’s weight at the time of conception or early on in pregnancy still appears to be one of the most difficult subjects to address. A new study suggests we better get better at having that discussion, for the sake of our kids’ health.