Candy eaters less likely to be overweight study finds

2 Jul

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We all know that cutting candy from our diets is one of the first things we should do if we want to lose weight, right? Not so fast.

A surprising new five-year study has found that American children and adolescents who ate candy were on average 25 per cent less likely to be overweight or obese than those who completely cut the sugary snacks out of their diet.

“These results are clearly unanticipated by most people,” said Victor Fulgoni III, senior vice president of the Michigan-based consulting firm Nutrition Impact and one of the study’s co-authors. “You’d think that if you eat candy you must be taking in more calories and you must therefore be more overweight. But that’s not what we found.”

Fulgoni and researchers at Louisiana State University examined health data for 11,000 youngsters between 1999 and 2004, broken down into two groups.

In the first group, children aged 2 to 13, the researchers found that those who ate candy were 22 per cent less likely to be overweight or obese that those kids who did not eat sweets.

In the second group, adolescents between the ages of 14 and 18, candy-eaters were 26 per cent less likely to put on the pounds than those who stayed away from them.

The researchers gleaned their data from the U.S.’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), a series of studies that asses the health and nutritional status of adults and children. Using data about diets, the researchers classified chocolate- and sugar-based sweets as “candy.”

 

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So where’s the rub?

Fulgoni stresses that the study is purely observational and that his results don’t prove that candy somehow prevents weight gain. Rather, he surmises that the youngsters consuming sweets were more physically active that those who shunned candy.

“We can’t violate the laws of thermodynamics so these kids have figured out a way to balance their energy intake with their energy output,” he told the Star. “Kids who are active can therefore have more calories in their diet because that activity helps them be leaner.”

Notably, there was no difference in the quality of diets of candy consumers and non-consumers. In fact, the researchers found that overall diet quality in both groups was generally quite poor.

The researchers also found that measures of C-reactive protein, a protein found in the blood that rises when there is inflammation in the body, was lower in candy-consumers. C-reactive protein is often used to assess patients’ risk of cardiovascular disease and certain forms of cancer.

But the results don’t mean kids should be rushing to fill their bellies with Oh Henry’s bars, jujubes and jelly beans, warns Carol O’Neil, another author of the study.

“The results of this study should not be construed as a hall-pass to overindulge,” O’Neil said in a statement. “Candy should not replace nutrient-dense foods in the diet; it is a special treat and should be enjoyed in moderation.”

The researchers say they hope their findings will encourage future research into the association between candy and weight measurements, including reasons for the relationship.

The study appears in this month’s edition of the journal Food & Nutrition Research.

Article posted by Spencer Samaroo, Managing Director, Moo-Lolly-Bar
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Source: Health Zone CA

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