Low-glycemic index desserts may aid in fighting type 2 diabetes

Type 2 diabetes has become a growing concern for Americans. According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), more than 28 million children and adults in the U.S. have diabetes, and type 2 diabetes accounts for as much as 90 percent of these cases.

Furthermore, the organization estimates that 7 million people have undiagnosed diabetes and another 79 million have pre-diabetes, meaning they have blood glucose levels that are elevated but not high enough to be considered diabetic.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 151,000 Americans under the age of 20 have type 2 diabetes.

Many health experts say that the rise in the number of youngsters who develop type 2 diabetes early in life has coincided with the growing problem of obesity among children. Therefore, it may be true that preventing obesity can reduce the prevalence of type 2 diabetes.

Changing the eating habits of Americans may be difficult, since they have been known to consume so-called high-fat Western diets. However, a recent study presented at the Endocrine Society's 93rd Annual Meeting indicated that children who need to lose weight in order to reduce their risk of type 2 diabetes may be able to have their cake and eat it, too - so long as it has a low glycemic index.

The researchers explained that the terms glycemic index and glycemic load (GI/GL) measure the rate at which certain foods increase blood sugar levels and their overall effect on blood glucose, respectively.

In order to determine whether low-GI/GL desserts would be beneficial to incorporate into weight loss programs for children, the investigators divided a group of obese participants between the ages of 10 and 14 into two groups.

In a given week, subjects in one group would consume any dessert of their choice on only one night, while the rest ate a low GI/GL treat on four occasions.

The study's results showed that participants who ate the low-GI/GL foods lost more weight, on average, compared to those who consumed any dessert only once weekly. The findings also indicated that adolescents in the low-GI/GL group showed improvements in biochemical markers of insulin resistance, which may mean that they were able to reduce their risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

"Childhood obesity is pandemic. Desserts with a low glycemic index and glycemic load, when eaten in moderation, are valuable tools in the treatment of pediatric obesity," said lead researcher Antonia Dastamani.