Diet Foods Fuel Obesity in Kids
by: Floyd Adan
Interestingly, this blog is all about diets but we have yet to discuss diet foods here (as in, reduced calorie foods). Although I am all for calorie reduction when it comes to achieving ones ideal weight, I have always steered clear of low-calorie versions of higher calorie foods, especially for youngsters and now, there’s a clearer reason why. A recent study which tested low-calorie versions of foods on young rats, who were induced to overeat whether they were lean or obese, has shown that low-calorie versions of usually high-calorie foods disrupt the body's ability to use taste to regulate calorific intake. They found that young rats given low-calorie foods began to overeat during their regular meals. The lead researcher said that this gives us a clue as to the effect of these foods on children and said that it is better for children to eat healthy, well-balanced diets with sufficient calories for their daily activities rather than low-calorie snacks or meals.
Interestingly, older adolescent rats also fed diet foods did not show the same tendency to overeat, because they, unlike the younger rats, were able to rely on a variety of taste-related cues to correctly assess the caloric value of their food. It seems the younger animals learned to match tastes usually associated with food high in calories with low-fat alternatives, and continued eating to try to get their calorie count up when it had already reached a healthy level. The researcher found that these findings emphasized the importance of promoting a balanced diet and exercise as the best ways to keep children fit and healthy as opposed to giving them diet foods to eat, which are probably not a good idea for growing youngsters. This study is yet another that reinforces the need to teach children healthy eating habits from early in life.
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