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The Dirty Little Secret of 'Diet' Foods
So-called "diet" foods can make you fat. How? They are loaded with sugar.

To make processed diet foods lower in calories, much or all of the fat is removed, but sugar is added--sometimes in great quantities--to make them taste better. And you really have to pay attention to know that because the sweet ingredients are camouflaged under other names to give the impression that the food is healthy.

Find out three easy ways to tell if a product has sugar in it--even if ''sugar'' is not on the ingredient list.

That's the word from University of Georgia researchers, who determined that these sugar-laded "diet" foods can actually cause you to gain weight.

The study: Led by Krzysztof Czaja, an associate professor of veterinary biosciences and diagnostic imaging in UGA's College of Veterinary Medicine, the team fed laboratory rats one of three diets for four weeks:
1. A diet high in fat and sugar
2. A diet low in fat but high in sugar
3. A balanced/normal rodent diet

Over the study period, they monitored the rats' body weight, caloric intake, body composition and fecal samples.

The results:

  • The rats that were on the first two diets all showed an increase in liver fat and significant increases in body weight and body fat, compared with the normal diet. And this is especially troubling because the rats on the low-fat, high-sugar diet did not consume significantly more calories than the rats that were on the balanced rodent diet.

  • Liver fat accumulation was significant in the low-fat, high-sugar group, something that is very dangerous. When the liver accumulates more fat, it mimics the effects of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is caused by fat buildup in the liver, and serious forms of the disease can result in liver damage comparable to that caused by heavy alcohol use.

  • The unbalanced diets also induced chronic inflammation in the intestinal tract and brain. The brain changes resulting from these unbalanced diets seem to be long term, and it is still not known if they are reversible by balanced diets.

The study findings were published online in the journal Physiology and Behavior.

Can sugar cause Alzheimer's disease? The scary answer: Maybe.

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