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Here Come Those Runaway Carbs!

Here Come Those Runaway Carbs!

They Can Make You Hungry for More ... and More ... and More

Ever wonder why you sometimes feel REALLY hungry just a few hours after eating a big meal?

Cartoon:  Boy eating donutProbably, you ate the kinds of foods that put a lot of sugar into your blood very quickly. Candy, donuts and desserts do that because they contain a lot of sugar. But so do other carbohydrates (car-bo-HI-drates) like pretzels, crackers, white bread, potatoes, white rice--even many cereals.

Each of these carbohydrates, or carbs for short, is made of sugar molecules all hooked together like cars on a train. In your intestines, these molecules quickly unhook from one another and roll on into your bloodstream--sometimes faster than eating a spoonful of sugar.

One out of every five U.S. kids is overweight. And being overweight is not healthy, says Susan Roberts. She is a physiologist (fizzy-ALL-oh-jist) at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's nutrition research center in Boston, Massachusetts.

Animation:  Fork moving in dish of spaghettiRoberts wants to know why so many more children are gaining weight than ever before. She thought some of the extra weight may be coming from eating carbs that "shotgun" sugar into your blood. Some scientists had already believed that it could make people want to eat again too soon. But nobody had really tested this idea. So Roberts and other scientists did.

For breakfast and lunch, they fed teenage boys one of three different meals. Each meal would raise blood sugar QUICKLY, LESS QUICKLY . . . or SLOWLY. Then they measured how much the boys ate later the same day.

Animation:  Pac-Man gobbling up dots

Sure enough, the boys felt most hungry and ate the most calories after eating the meals that raised blood sugar quickly.

But ... WHY do those "shotgun" carbs make you hungry? Click here for answer.

The good news, says Roberts, is that kids can eat all the vegetables and fruits and low-fat dairy products and whole grain cereals they want. Drawing:  Assortment of ten different fruitsThat's because the carbs in these foods take longer to get into your blood. Lean meat and poultry are good for you, too. And you won't want to pig out a few hours later.

--By Judy McBride, formerly with the Information Staff, Agricultural Research Service

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