Sugar or Fat? Which turns you on more?

The study gave 100 high school students milk shakes that were either high in sugar and low in fat or low in sugar and high in fat. Each type had the same calorie content. The sugar-laden shakes lit up pleasure centers in the brain more effectively than the fat ones.

Sugar, we all crave it and at some level we all know we crave it. Our bodies were conditioned to thousands of years ago when that compulsion helped us survive. Christmas brings out the Christmas candy in every stocking, Christmas cakes, a festival of sugar, in other words.

So when a new study comes out telling us the sugar’s the thing, should we be surprised? Apparently some researchers were, reports the New York Times and others recently.

The study gave 100 high school students milk shakes that were either high in sugar and low in fat or low in sugar and high in fat. Each type had the same calorie content. The sugar-laden shakes lit up pleasure centers in the brain more effectively than the fat ones. Sugar was a more powerful stimulus than fat, they found.

We all crave sugar, like I did during this pie-eating contest a few years ago. No pie for me today, thanks to my angioplasty.
We all crave sugar, like I did during this pie-eating contest a few years ago. No pie for me today, thanks to my angioplasty.

“We do a lot of work on the prevention of obesity, and what is really clear not only from this study but from the broader literature over all is that the more sugar you eat, the more you want to consume it,” said Dr. Stice, a senior research scientist at the Oregon Research Institute, says in the Times piece. “As far as the ability to engage brain reward regions and drive compulsive intake, sugar seems to be doing a much better job than fat.”

Personally, I have found cutting sugar from my diet much more difficult than cutting fat and salt. My sugar intake is still higher than the 40 grams a day one nutritionist recommended to me. The difference is that now I get most of it from fruit rather than chocolate and cake as I did before my angioplasty. Does that make a difference? The same nutritionist told me no, too much sugar of any kind is bad for me. But others focus on processed sugars and say eating fruits is ok.
John

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