The role of nutrition in the development of mood disorders has recently become a central focus of clinical research. In recent years, public awareness of the intimate relationship between the brain and mental wellbeing has increasingly grown. The high metabolic and nutrient demands of the brain — which consumes 20% of a person’s daily caloric intake — suggest a connection between dietary choices and cognitive function, sparking a multitude of studies seeking to determine the specific connections of nutrients and mood disorders.
In June of 2018, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a study with chilling results regarding children’s nutrition & sugar consumption. The study, presented at the American Society for Nutrition’s annual meeting during Nutrition 2018 in Boston, assessed sugar consumption among children less than 2 years old: the first time that a study had analyzed “added sugar” consumption among children in such a young cohort.
While the American Heart Association already recommends that very young children, under the age of 2, always avoid food with added sugars—including baked goods, candy, sugary drinks, etc.—researchers at the CDC have found that many parents do not follow these guidelines.
Lead study author Kirsten Herrick, a nutritional epidemiologist from the CDC, and her team found that the amount of added sugar increased along with a child’s age: for the children between 6 and 11 months, 61 percent of the sugar in their diet was added sugar; yet by the time children reached between 1 and 2 years old, that amount was even higher. Almost 99 percent of the sugar consumed by those children was added: i.e., not naturally occurring in the food items, and equaled an approximate average of 5.5 teaspoons each day.
The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for America do not include recommendations regarding “added sugar” for any children under 2 years of age; for children between 2 and 19, the recommendation is a daily limit of 6 teaspoons. Nevertheless, a CDC report confirms that on average, adult Americans consume 19.5 teaspoons of sugar each day—far exceeding the recommended limits.
Excessive sugar consumption is unhealthy for many reasons; while many problems can manifest during childhood, including obesity, cavities asthma, other major health issues such as cardiovascular disease and cancer can occur later in life. Moreover, statistics demonstrate that added sugar is particularly damaging for children, as it sets diet preferences that can ultimately lead them to make poor nutritional choices later in life. And until recently, young children and teens were not diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, yet given the large percentage of American youth that are overweight, children as young as 10 years old are now developing diabetes.
A new study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, has indicated two biomarkers that can predict the efficacy of certain diets for weight loss: specifically, for people with prediabetes or diabetes.
Through an analysis of over 1,200 adults, researchers discovered that a person’s fasting blood glucose levels, fasting insulin levels, or both, could pinpoint which diets would most likely lead to weight loss. These biomarkers were particularly effective in determining which diets were best for people with pre-diabetes and diabetes.
Each year, millions of us attempt to lose weight through diets, but not all of us succeed. A new study has uncovered two biomarkers that could predict how effective certain diets will be for weight loss, particularly for people with prediabetes or diabetes.
Statistics from the American Diabetes Association indicate that approximately 29.1 million people in the Untied States have diabetes; estimates show that around 75 million people have pre-diabetes, yet almost 90% remain unaware. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of the condition: the body is unable to effectively use the hormone insulin, which causes high blood glucose levels. For people with prediabetes, blood glucose levels remain higher than normal—yet not high enough to lead to a diagnosis of diabetes.
The researchers in the study believe that a person’s fasting blood glucose and insulin levels could be utilized to help identify the most effective diet for weight loss, after analyzing the data of three dietary clinical trials: the Diet, Obesity, and Genes trial, the OPUS Supermarket intervention (SHOPUS), and the Nutrient-gene interactions in human obesity (NUGENOB) trial. The subjects were all overweight; the researchers evaluated and assessed their fasting blood glucose levels, and fasting insulin levels, in order to determine whether the levels were associated with weight loss in response to certain diets.
These results symbolize a kind of breakthrough in personalized nutrition: among adults with prediabetes, the team found that a diet rich in whole grains, vegetables, and fruits was the most effective for weight loss. For example, in the SHOPUS trial, adults with prediabetes who followed a diet high in the aforementioned foods lost more weight than those who followed a controlled diet. For people with type 2 diabetes, the researchers found that a diet rich in plant-based, “healthy” fats, and low in carbohydrates, was most effective for weight loss.
The team reported that adding participants’ fasting insulin levels to the analysis further strengthened the identified correlations between diet and weight loss, confirming the hypothesis that fasting blood glucose and fasting insulin levels may be biomarkers for weight loss.