low sugar

An adolescent’s gender does play a role when looking at insulin and glucose levels in blood samples drawn soon after a youngster has eaten breakfast. Meals either high or low in sugar show girls have a greater tendency than boys to be more insulin resistant during the post-meal period.


Such are the findings a research team determined after a study of 40 boys and girls, ages 10-14, who attend two schools in the Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, England area. This study is novel, as it incorporated a gender factor and less invasive blood draw methods into its findings; prior trials did neither.

The British Journal of Nutrition accepted the clinical trial’s findings for publication on Feb. 6, 2017. Researchers secured every needed consent to proceed with their study.

Rapid hormonal changes during puberty affect the manner in which young people metabolize high- and low-sugar foods. In Western societies, aging youngsters frequently eat a breakfast containing a high level of carbohydrates, i.e. sugars. This pattern may later become habit-forming and lead toward an individual becoming more at risk for cardiovascular or diabetic conditions – conditions that can have lifelong detrimental health effects.

This study to measure the blood’s glycemic index (GI), or level of high- or low-sugar, consisted of a familiarization session, followed by three GI trials, with each part separated by seven days.

During the familiarization session, each youngster’s standing and sitting heights, weight and waist measurements were recorded. Those numbers generated a body-mass index (BMI) for each child.

Before the commencement of the three-part GI measurement, researchers told participants to avoid excessive physical activity for 24 hours before the start of a trial session. Next, each participant was instructed to eat the same food at the evening meal and to have stopped eating by 10 p.m. that night. Water in any amount was allowed at any time.

In the morning after arriving at school and after a 10-minute seated rest, a uniform blood sample from warmed hands’ capillaries was drawn before the breakfast meal. The first trial breakfast, lasting 15 minutes, consisted of controlled portions of high GI foods –corn flakes, white bread, margarine, and 1% milk. Next, researchers drew blood 15, 30, 60 and 120 minutes after the meal was eaten.

The same scenario followed a week later with a low GI food breakfast – 1% milk, a cereal called Muesli and a Braeburn apple. The third session eliminated the breakfast at school, but blood still was drawn.

Researchers analyzed the youngsters’ blood samples to determine plasma insulin and blood glucose levels.

While plasma insulin levels were greater in both boys and girls after a high GI breakfast, the girls had 30 to 40% higher readings, the findings show. However, glycemic readings between girls and boys were found to be similar.

The authors stated a study limitation occurred by virtue of the fact that each participant was responsible for verifying his or her own compliance to study parameters when arriving at school. Further, the study did not incorporate the fact that some of the girls may have begun to menstruate, which could have rendered a physiological effect in their blood.

Concluding, the authors demonstrated the effect high- and low-glucose breakfasts have upon gender, with the warning that youngsters, in particular, may want to focus their eating habits around low-sugar, healthier foods as part of a lifelong quest for robust fitness.


Written By: Susan Mercer Hinrichs, MA, MBA, CPhT

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