No Diet Foods for Kids
By Vivian Richardson, Ivanhoe Health Correspondent
ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- If you hope to curb the obesity
epidemic in your children, don't feed them diet foods or drinks. A new
study reveals low-calorie foods and drinks made to taste like
high-calorie foods and drinks may actually lead to overeating and
Researchers from the University of Alberta suggest animals learn to
associate how food tastes with how much energy it provides. Experiments
with rats revealed snacks perceived as low calorie can lead to
overeating at regular meals, while snacks perceived as high calorie did
not lead to overeating. Study author and sociologist David Pierce,
Ph.D., told Ivanhoe the same might be seen in children.
"This is a possible behavioral mechanism for understanding how it is
that a diet drink or diet foods could make you a little overweight,"
said Dr. Pierce. Previous studies have suggested a link between diet
soda consumption and a higher risk of obesity, diabetes and heart
Researchers trained young rats to associate certain flavors with
caloric content. Once trained, the researchers observed the rates given
snacks flavored with the low-calorie signal would proceed to eat more
food than they needed at regular meals. The effect was seen in lean and
genetically obese rats, which suggests diet foods may lead to more
serious consequences for children who are already overweight.
"I think what it really says is that the best thing to do with
children is to give them nutritious foods," Dr. Pierce said, noting
that well-balanced diets should correspond to the child's level of
This article was reported by Ivanhoe.com, which offers Medical Alerts by e-mail every day of the week. To subscribe, click on: http://www.ivanhoe.com/newsalert/.
SOURCE: Ivanhoe interview with David Pierce, Ph.D.; OBESITY, 2007;15:1969-1979
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