Obesity Risk Not Associated With Eating Too Much Candy
May 20, 2013

Obesity Risk Not Associated With Eating Too Much Candy

Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online

According to research published in Nutrition Journal, eating candy frequently may not be putting you at risk of obesity or heart disease.

Researchers said they found that adults who consume candy at least every other day are no more likely to be overweight or have greater risk factors for cardiovascular disease than moderate consumers or even less frequent candy eaters.

Having a sweet tooth is nearly as common as having two hands and feet. According to the study, 96 percent of adults admitted to eating candy, but there was a variability in frequency and quantity consumed. This study found that those adults who are eating candy nearly every day were not more likely to be obese.

"We did not find an association between frequency of candy intake and BMI or cardiovascular risk factors among adults," notes lead author Mary M. Murphy, MS, RD of Exponent® Inc., Center for Chemical Regulation & Food Safety.

Frequency of candy consumption in the study was based on analyses of food frequency questionnaires and data from the 2003-2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). This survey is the most recent data set in which these food frequency questionnaires were available.

The study authors say more research is needed to further understand the role candy plays in life and the best tips for candy lovers to include their favorite treats as part of a happy healthy lifestyle. According to the National Cancer Institute's analysis of NHANES survey, candy contributed to about 44 calories per day, or just 2 percent of the total caloric intake.

Candy accounted for just one teaspoon of added sugars in an adult's diet, which is just a fraction of the 100 to 150 calorie upper limit of added sugars recommended by the American Heart Association (AHA). However, sugary drinks accounted for 60 percent of the total added sugars intake.

The National Cancer Institute found that candy accounted for only 3.1 percent of the total saturated fat intake by the US population aged 2 years.

"There is a place for little pleasures, such as candy, in life. A little treat in moderation can have a positive impact on mood and satisfaction, and as emerging research suggests, minimal impact on diet and health risk," said Laura Shumow, MHS, Director of Scientific and Regulatory Affairs, National Confectioners Association (NCA).

Researchers wrote in the Food & Nutrition Research journal in 2011 that children who eat candy tend to weigh less than their non-consuming counterparts. Children who eat candy have a slightly higher intake of total energy and added sugars, but they had a better balance of "calories in, calories out" than other children.

Carol O´Neil, PhD, MPH, LDN, RD, Louisiana State University Agricultural Center, lead author of the 2011 study, said the research showed that children who eat candy are less likely to be overweight or obese. "However, the results of [the research] should not be construed as a hall-pass to overindulge. Candy should not replace nutrient-dense foods in the diet; it is a special treat and should be enjoyed in moderation."