Eating white bread is just like eating sugar.

A study finds an association between white bread consumption and obesity and makes an argument for switching to whole grain bread.

The extensive refining process that flour has to go through to make white bread is bad for the environment. A new study suggests that the same highly refined white bread is bad for health, too. Researchers at the University of Navarra in Pamplona, Spain found that consuming more than three or four slices of white bread a day is associated with a 40 percent higher risk of becoming obese.

The highly refined flour that is used in white bread gets rapidly absorbed as sugar. Professor Martinez-Gonzalez said, “Essentially it is equivalent to a high consumption of sugar. The problem is similar to what we see with soft drinks — their sugars are rapidly transformed into fat in an organism.”

This isn’t surprising information. We’ve been hearing for a while now that the body processes white bread in a similar fashion to how it processes sugar. People are hearing the message, too, and in 2010, the sales of wheat bread surpassed the sales of white bread.

But, wheat bread isn’t necessarily any better than white bread unless it contains whole grains and skips the added sweeteners. Make sure your wheat bread is a good one by looking for the word “whole wheat” and not just “wheat” in the ingredients list.

By: Robin Shreeves