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It's Okay to Have a Little Sugar

Does sugar promote obesity and diabetes like we think?

Nashville, Ark. –

Many will wake up to chocolate bunnies, jellybeans and other sugar filled treats this weekend compliments of the Easter bunny. While most children do not worry about eating sugar, the same is not true for everyone. Many adults may think twice before divulging in more than one piece of candy. After all, sugar is fattening and promotes obesity, diabetes, heart disease and hyperactivity, right? Maybe not. Let’s look at the facts.

Sugar is a nutrient known as a carbohydrate, and there are two types of carbohydrates – simple and complex. Whether in the form of candy, fruit, pasta, bread, or a starchy baked potato, all carbohydrates are digested and broken down by the body to become glucose, which is the body’s primary source of energy. The body doesn’t recognize where glucose comes from – just that it is present.

From a dietary standpoint, however, it does matter where the glucose come from. Simple sugar generally provides only calories and no significant nutrients.

Scientists have found that lean people often eat more sugar than overweight people, so sugar doesn’t trigger weight gain. Genetics, lack of exercise, too many calories and too much dietary fat are probable cause of being overweight, not the intake of sugar. Think about it. Many sugary treats (such as cake, ice cream, or chocolate) are also high in fat, which is why they promote weight gain.

Genetics, rather than sugar intake, plays a major role in the development of diabetes. Maintaining a healthy weight, engaging in regular physical activity, and eating a healthy diet contribute more to preventing diabetes.

In fact, the American Diabetes Association guidelines allow simple carbohydrates in the diabetic diet – keeping in mind that it is the amount of carbohydrates in the diet, rather than the type of carbohydrate, that is the key concern for diabetics.

Many parents believe that too many sweets, like cake, candy, and cookies, can cause their children to be hyperactive. The fact is that the link between sugar and hyperactivity has not been proven. Some sugary snacks, such as chocolate and colas, may also contain caffeine which may increase children’s hyperactivity. Sugar does provide a rapid supply of energy, but that does not necessarily mean it will make a child hyperactive.

So, this Easter, enjoy that piece of candy! Just watch how much you eat. It may be helpful to portion out a serving size. If the serving size is three pieces, then eat only three pieces. It may take a little willpower, but you can enjoy sugary treats along with your kids!

If you would like more information about nutrition or diabetic cooking, contact the Howard County Extension Service. I will be glad to offer a diabetic cooking class after Covid-19 rules relax. The Cooperative Extension Service is part of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.

Carrot Cake Recipe

This recipe is a favorite at Diabetic Cooking Schools. It is perfect for anyone and makes a great Easter dessert!

  • ½ cup canola oil
  • ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar substitute
  • 4 egg substitute equivalents
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon salt (optional)
  • ½ cup chopped pecans
  • 3 cups grated carrots
  1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the oil, applesauce, sugar substitute, and eggs until well blended.
  2. Add the water, flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt and mix well.
  3. Stir in the pecans and carrots. Coat a 3-quart tube pan with nonstick cooking spray. Pour in the batter and bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean.
  4. Let the cake cool 10 minutes in the pan, then invert cake and let cool completely. If you like, frost with low-fat cream cheese frosting.

Yield:  16 servings

Nutritional Information per Serving: Calories 155, Carbohydrate 15g, Fat 9g, Cholesterol 0mg, Sodium 173mg, Protein 3g, Fiber 1g


By Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
421 N. Main St, Nashville AR 71852
(870) 845-7517


The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need materials in another format, please contact your County Extension office (or other appropriate office) as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay.

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs to all eligible persons without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.