News Roundup: Exercise Linked to Life Span, Reducing Sugar Can Improve Kids' Health in 10 Days

Exercise Boosts Longevity

If you want to live longer, researchers have advice for you: Dust off your gym shoes and get moving. Exercise can hold back the signs of aging and contribute to a longer life—especially if fitness is undertaken in middle age, according to a new study from the University of Mississippi and the University of California, San Francisco.

Exercise slows down the rate in which the cells in your body age, the study says. Research results appear in the November issue of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, a medical journal published by the American College of Sports Medicine.

The research team — which included a past Nobel Prize winner — analyzed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey that was collected from 1999 to 2002. Nearly, 6,500 adults — from early 20s to mid-80s — participated in that data pool, and participants were divided into four groups based on their level of activity. A point system was used to track involvement in exercise. Those with highest point totals were the most active, and that group also had the longest telomere—a cell feature linked to longevity in other ground-breaking research.

“A clear dose-response relation was observed between movement based-behavior and leukocyte telomere length,” according to the author’s the latest study. Translation: The healthier cells linked to a longer life span belonged to those who were more engaged in exercise and movement.

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–Sharon Harvey Rosenberg

Cutting Sugar Can Have Positive Effects for Kids in Just Days

A new study reaffirms that too much sugar in children’s diets can negatively affect blood pressure, cholesterol and other key metrics in just a matter of days.

The new research sought to answer the question: Is it sugar itself or too much weight in obese children that is causing the most harm? The clinical experiment involved reducing sugar intake — but not total calories — from the diets of a group of children.

After 10 days, the children showed significant improvements, despite losing little or no weight. The findings reaffirm that all calories are not created equal, and too much sugar can contribute to Type 2 diabetes and other metabolic diseases, according to the lead author, Dr. Robert Lustig, a pediatric endocrinologist at the Benioff Children’s Hospital of the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Lustig has gained prominence nationally for exposing the ill effects of too much sugar in the diets of children and adults.

The researchers recruited 43 children between the ages of 9 and 18 who were considered at high risk of diabetes and related problems.

After the low sugar diet, the children in the experiment saw their LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, fall by 10 points, on average. Their diastolic blood pressure fell by an average of five points. Their triglycerides, the fat that travels in the blood and fuels heart disease, went down by 33 points. And their fasting blood sugar and insulin levels – major indicators of their diabetes risk – also showed sharp improvements.

“This paper says we can turn a child’s metabolic health around in 10 days without changing calories and without changing weight – just by taking the added sugars out of their diet,” he said. “From a clinical standpoint, from a health care standpoint, that’s very important,” Lustig said.

In February, the federal government’s Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee recommended that Americans limit their intake of added sugars to no more than 10 percent of daily calories. Americans get about 13 percent of their calories from sugars, with percentages even higher for children and young adults.

Added sugars are defined as sugars and syrups that are added to foods or beverages when those items are processed or prepared. These include common ready-to-eat cereals, candy, cookies, sodas and a range of other food products that are packaged or canned. Added sugar also includes those sugar packets you open to sweeten your coffee or tea.

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— John Fernandez

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