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A 'Spoonful of Sugar' May Be Acceptable for Some Diabetics

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At the end of the study, the average blood sugars, measured with a test called hemoglobin A1c, were not statistically different. The total cholesterol for the sugar group was higher, and the conventional group's LDL, or "bad," cholesterol had decreased more than the sugar group's. Changes in triglycerides and HDL, or "good," cholesterol were negligible.

The possibility of including some sugar may apply to children as well, Yale says. "However, our study looked at how patients with diabetes apply the teaching received, and for adults, this may be different from how parents try to apply these guidelines to their children's diet and how the message gets interpreted by the children themselves," he says.

Experts have differing perspectives on the study's value and whether patients should adopt the Canadian so-called "sugar guidelines." "Sugar by itself is not bad. Incorporating glucose or sugar products into a healthy meal plan does not raise [average blood sugar]," A. Jay Cohen, MD, FACE, tells WebMD, noting the emphasis on healthy eating. "Spending the time learning how to eat properly can lead to significant positive consequences." Cohen, who is on the board of directors of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, is an endocrinologist in Memphis, Tenn., where he is a clinical professor of medicine at the University of Tennessee.

Even so, the sugar guidelines should be viewed with caution, says Lawrence Phillips, MD, who also provided WebMD with an objective assessment of the study. "Most dietary plans today allow for some incorporation of simple sugars," says Phillips, a professor of medicine in endocrinology and metabolism at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta. "Should it be 10% of total calories? I'm not convinced yet. ... I would advise caution. I would not recommend [such a diet] for patients with type 2 diabetes."

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