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Study: Diet Foods May Lead to Child Obesity
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Diet sodas and other noncalorie and low-calorie foods may lead to overeating and obesity among children. (File Photo)


Diet sodas and other noncalorie and low-calorie foods may lead to overeating and obesity among children, media reported Thursday.


The research, published in the Obesity, involved young rats, not children, but researchers found that children who consume low-calorie foods may develop distorted connections between taste and calorie content, leading them to overeat as they grow up.

Juvenile rats in the study fed sweet or salty low-calorie foods over time later overate when fed similar tasting calorie-dense foods, suggesting that the low-calorie foods disrupted the body's ability to recognize calories and regulate energy intake.


This was especially true among young rats genetically predisposed to become obese, the research said.


W. David Pierce, a sociologist from University of Alberta and lead author of the paper, acknowledged that extrapolating the findings to human children is a big leap.


"Based on what we've learned, 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," said Pierce, 


"Parents and health professionals should be made aware of this and know that the old-fashioned ways to keep children fit and healthy-insuring they eat well-balanced meals and exercise regularly-are the best ways," he said. "Diet foods are probably not a good idea for growing youngsters."


Soft drinks sweetened with sugar and other sugary beverages are among the biggest contributors to childhood obesity in the U.S., according to childhood obesity expert Goutham Rao.


"The solution to the obesity epidemic is simple to understand but hard to implement," Rao says. "Avoid sweetened beverages, avoid fast food, limit media time, fit physical activity into the everyday routine, and eat together as a family. If every family did these things there would be very few obese children."


(Xinhua News Agency August 10, 2007)


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