A simple survey can help evaluate children, and the remedy for better health is even easier.
What if your child could be healthier in just 10 days?
Most parents would sign on for that in less than 10 seconds. And, this same plan applies to adults, too.
A recent study published in the journal Obesity showed overfat children who stopped eating added sugars for just 10 days dramatically improved their health. It wasn’t just an “improvement,” and the word “dramatic” does not do the results justice. The majority of those in the study group actually reversed chronic metabolic disease indicators, such as high levels of cholesterol, high blood pressure, high blood sugar and insulin, liver dysfunction and other problems in just 10 days.
Metabolic syndrome comprises a cluster of disease risk factors including hypertension, altered glucose metabolism, high blood fats, increased abdominal fat and others. It is common in adults but occurs in children too. Many patients are obese, but it can also occur in lean individuals, suggesting that obesity is a marker for the syndrome, not a cause. What’s most remarkable about the children with metabolic syndrome is how quickly they develop it.
For several reasons, many children, like adults, whether they have a diagnosis of metabolic syndrome or an earlier stage of dysfunction that may not be recognized, have a chronic complex metabolic stress associated with various problems. These may include excess insulin production (hyperinsulinemia), blood-sugar irregularities, increased fat storage, and sometimes other health problems.
Those with these symptoms may be heavy at birth, but sometimes birth weight is low, tall for their age as they enter school, have a sweet tooth and various other difficult-to-define health issues. They may have seemingly unrelated conditions, or vague symptoms. To help make all this easier to understand, I call the full spectrum of these problems carbohydrate intolerance. To put it simply, the consumption of refined carbohydrates is harming the body.
The simple act of removing added sugars from the diet corrected many of the problems in the children that were studied.
If you’re a longtime reader of my books and articles, or a clinician who’s been seeing these kinds of changes in patients, the study is not really news at all. But for many people who read the headlines, this may come as an almost unbelievable shock — one simple dietary change and a 10-day duration make this big of a difference. It’s almost too good to be true.
But we sometimes see similar changes in adults too.
It should also not be surprising that sugar and flour, which quickly turns to sugar when eaten, is that bad for the body. It’s why the white stuff has been compared to heroin and cocaine. Imagine if these kids just stopped eating all refined carbohydrates?
The devastating effects of sugar consumption can lead to pediatric metabolic syndrome, a condition that is also increasing, meaning more children are getting more sick earlier in life. While it’s easy to see the problem in an obese child, the lean ones can be affected too, sometimes just as bad. It’s possible that about 75 percent of the people on earth are overfat, including those who are normal weight but have an overfat metabolism, meaning most, including children, may be carbohydrate intolerant.
Virtually all health organizations, clinicians and scientists, not to mention many parents, know the rise in the prevalence of obesity and disease in children, including adolescents, is one of the most alarming public health issues facing the world today. But it’s really just the tip of the iceberg, as the earliest signs of heart disease can be seen in some of them, with most of these sick children becoming sicker adults.
Metabolic dysfunction early in life can lead to a long list of possible secondary chronic health conditions in adulthood, if not before, including heart disease, diabetes, chronic inflammation, oxidative stress, hypertension, infertility, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, sleep apnea, Alzheimer’s, cancer and numerous others. These are preventable conditions.
Long before some children become overfat, some may start building excess body fat, but most have various signs and symptoms that make it clear they are at high risk for metabolic syndrome. Don’t be fooled by those children who are not obese, or who seem to pass their pediatric checks-ups — metabolic dysfunctions may be brewing in these young bodies as well.
Below is an valuable health survey that lists some of the important clues, signs and symptoms in children that may indicate a higher risk of carbohydrate intolerance.
Check the items that apply:
- Birth weight: 5½ lbs. or less; 9 lbs. or more.
- Taller than average for age.
- Increased body weight or fat.
- Parent, grandparent, or sibling is diabetic.
- Sleep problems.
- Increased aggression or anger.
- Brain injury (including learning, behavior and other problems).
- Overeating sweets or carbohydrates causes upset.
- Physical activity less than 4 hours per week.
- Family or personal history of high blood pressure, high cholesterol or triglycerides, heart disease, stroke or cancer.
- Sweet tooth or sugar-addicted.
- Mother had high stress during pregnancy.
Sometimes just one or two of the items in this survey could mean there’s an increased risk for carbohydrate intolerance, and certainly the risk may increase with more signs or symptoms. However, just reducing sugar and flour in a child’s diet could make dramatic health changes. How much should you reduce them? The less bad food in the diet the better — how much good health do our children deserve?
The Two-Week Test, which I developed about 35 years ago, was designed for adults. And parents who perform this test often realize the health of their children is being compromised by too much carbohydrate intake, and make adjustments to their kid’s diets as well.
I don’t recommend the Two-Week Test for children, although some adolescents might find it useful. The important thing is that children should not eat unhealthy food, and since parents directly influence their eating habits, it’s our responsibility to offer healthy foods to our kids.