Thursday, April 26, 2007

Study: Sugar-Free Schools Reduce Obesity Rates

Researcher Claude Marcus looked at impact of sugar-free schools

This story about a new Swedish study was absolutely encouraging to anyone living a sugar-free lifestyle.

Lead researcher Claude Marcus, professor of Pediatrics at the Stockholm, Sweden-based Karolinska Institute (whose previous research has show the impact of high blood sugar on Alzheimer's disease and sugar's unique role in pancreatic cancer), wanted to see if an across-the-board ban on all sweets, junk food, and sodas in ten area schools would make a difference in the number of overweight children at those schools. These high-carb sugary garbage foods were replaced by high-fiber, lower-fat, low-carb foods.

Over a four-year period, the number of overweight or obese 6-10 year old children in the project called STOPP (Stockholm Obesity Prevention Project) dropped markedly from 22 percent down to 16 percent. WOW! That's a full six percentage points just by simply removing the sugar option from the foods available at school.

So what happened to the control group that changed nothing?

These sugar-eating, high-carb junk food-ingesting children saw the number of overweight or obese children RISE from 18 percent to 21 percent. Not surprising at all to those of us who are livin' la vida low-carb.

The results of Marcus' study were presented at the 15th European Congress on Obesity in Budapest, Hungary on Monday, April 23. STOPP was financed by the Stockholm County Council with contributions from the Swedish Research Council and the Masonic Home for Children in Stockholm.

Interestingly, Marcus said his study showed it is indeed possible to tackle childhood obesity without adding any extra expenditures to the existing school budgets.

"Our results show that programmes to reduce the increasing rate of obesity can be carried out within the schools' existing budgets," he said.

Sweet! So much for the excuse that serving kids healthy alternatives to junk food is too expensive. As long as those "healthy" alternatives have enough fat and protein to make them good for the kids, it shouldn't be a problem economically or nutritionally. That seems to be what this study indicates and the proof is in the astounding results.

There was one positive impact that the example from the sugar-free schools had when the children got home.

"We also interpret the results to mean that clear regulations in schools can help parents to set standards for their children and improve dietary habits at home," the study indicated.

What an excellent point! When parents who want to feed their kids the right kind of foods get reinforcement when their children go to school, then they are better able to effectively bring about improvements in their child's health without the fear of being undercut by the peer influences at school. We need something like this to be implemented in the United States--ASAP!

There is some hope already with kids like this refusing to sell sugary foods as a fundraiser. It's gonna take a lot more efforts like these to bring about the kind of results Marcus saw in his study. So let's get it started, baby!

You can e-mail Claude Marcus about this research at

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Blogger Science4u1959 said...

Gosh... I thought it was just calories in, calories out... :)

Finally some good science! Well done, dr. Claude Marcus! And good post, Jimmy! In Sweden many people say "Nej, tack, jag bantar" when one offers them something sugary. It means "No, thank you, I am Banting"! Yes, after William Banting - who, more than 140 years ago, introduced his low-carb dietary regimen.

4/26/2007 11:30 PM  
Blogger jm_funk said...

Results were what you would expect. They would probably be even better if they followed the eating patterns outside of school also.

There is one point you make, Jimmy, that is not exactly correct. It would be expensive for a lot of schools to do this. Schools in a lot of the US receive billions of dollars from the softdrink industry, etc. for the vending machines and all. Without this money they have to cut something or get more tax money. Its shameful, but that's how it works now. Some are finally starting to change. I don't remember snack machines in schools when I was in high school. I think we had soda machine that were there for lunchtime only. If you ate right (protein and fats) you wouldn't need to snack between meals.

Of course there still are the lunches they serve.

4/27/2007 11:00 AM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

That wasn't my point, jm_funk. That was the conclusion of the researchers and I happen to appreciate that. It removes the obstacles.

But you make some salient comments, too. Follow the money...but that's no excuse for keeping our kids fat.

THANKS for your comments!

4/27/2007 11:38 AM  

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