Does your child drink sugar free drinks?
They contain high fructose corn syrup.
Parents beware! Fructose though taken as natural fruit sugar, it is not that simple.
One of the most popular child health trends today is preventing children from consuming large amounts of fructose, especially high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), which leads to various child health problems; obesity and diabetes being among them.
It is for this very reason many parents now opt for sugar-free “healthier” alternatives. They hope of improving their children’s well-being by reducing their sugar consumption.
Unfortunately, the fact that the so called “no sugar added” fruit juices and beverages are loaded with High Fructose Corn Syrup remains hidden.
Most of sugar free diet drinks contain artificial sweeteners in disguise of natural names; corn and fructose.
So can the sugar-free drinks really be the ideal solution for modern child health issues like obesity and diabetes?
According to a report in published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the number of children in the United States who drink sugar free beverages has doubled in past 10 years.
This was based on data from a federal health survey. Researchers said that in 1998, only six percent of U.S. children consumed sugar free drinks. By 2008, the number increased to 12.5 percent. The same goes for adults.
Dr. Miriam B. Vos, senior researcher from Emory University, Atlanta, said that the “diet drink” trend is not at all surprising in adults. However, the increase in the number of children who drink high fructose corn syrup sweetened beverages as diet drinks was quite unexpected.
She agrees that children should take less amount of fructose for optimal body metabolism and their overall good health. Nevertheless, she concludes that the long term effect of high fructose containing artificial sweeteners on children’s development yet remain to be studied.
She is wary of the fact that till date there are no human studies that have looked at artificial sweeteners’ long-term effects on humans.
As shown in studies conducted on lab animals:
Dr. Vos notes that the child health concerns associated with use of artificial sweeteners are from the results of animal studies: Lab animals that were fed artificial sweeteners showed significant increase in their weight.
The reason for weight gain is believed to be secondary to altered body metabolism as a consequence of high fructose in diet. Dr. Vos says that she is not sure whether the same effects will be seen in children.
However, there is a rising concern that metabolic syndrome associated with teenage obesity could be a consequence of metabolic derangement secondary to consumption of high fructose corn syrup in health drinks.
Some other popular artificial sweeteners used today include saccharin, aspartame, and sucralose. The so-called natural sweetener agave syrup, which is touted “healthy,” is also used in some products, although some natural health experts question its safety.
The rate of teenage obesity has greatly increased over last two decades. Due to the increasing size of the waistline, most teenagers have turn to diet drinks and foods readily available at usual food stores.
Though it is difficult to precisely conclude the benefits or ill effects of the sugar free drinks that are being marketed, large population studies till date do not confirm any beneficial role of diet drinks in weight management goals.
Sugar free diet drinks may seem like the ideal solution to improve children's health, but that they are not. However, more long-term clinical studies are required to confirm the effects of high fructose corn syrup containing diet products on children’s health.
Pure, clear water that’s natural drink and free of harmful chemicals is the best beverage for children. Drinking raw milk from pasture-fed cows is also a good idea, as it contains a good amount of nutrients.
If your child really craves for sweet drinks, settle for safe and natural options like the herb stevia and raw honey. Use minimal amounts of these sweeteners, though.
Category: Childhood Obesity
Insulin resistance associated with high fructose intake
Fructose Metabolism Basics (opens new window)
Andrea Peterson is a blogger and doting mom to three kids. She writes various topics about children’s health, and believes that fructose and artificial sweeteners from soda and other processed drinks are among the major reasons why many children suffer from illnesses today.
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