Cutting down on sugar can make you fat

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The Independent Online
Restricting sugar in the diet and substituting artificial sweeteners may make people get fatter while they believe they are helping themsleves to lose weight or to maintain a desirable weight.

This bitter information comes from a new study which found that when sugar was removed from the diet, people unconsciously tended to eat more to compensate for the calorie reduction. As a consequence dieters ate more fat, which has a higher calorie concentration than the sugar they were avoiding.

Donald Naismith, emeritus professor at the department of human nutrition and dietetics, Kings College, London Hospital, led the research. He said 10 healthy young men with no weight problems had eaten as much as they wanted from an attractive menu for 10 days. After 10 days all the sugar was replaced with sweetener, which the young men failed to notice.

"We put as much sugar as we could into the sauces and soups so we achieved a 500-calorie-a-day reduction when we removed it," Professor Naismith said.

On the sweetener menu the men ate 11 per cent more fat. "We were quite staggered by the results. In both periods of the trial, energy intake swung hugely - by 1,000 calories a day in some cases. But they were quite unaware that their intake varied."

What this proves, Professor Naismith suggests, is deeply depressing for those who find it hard to regulate their weight. Some people - lean people - he says, have bodies which are simply much more efficient in responding to what they eat.