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Do Artificial Sweeteners Hurt Kids?: Page Two

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Continued from Are Artificial Sweeteners Dangerous for Kids?

What is the bottom line? Ultimately, this is an area where the general rule of thumb should be: everything in moderation. An occasional diet food is fine, but stocking the pantry with them may not be.

There is a tremendous amount of conflicting data about sugar substitutes. Generally, there is no evidence that any of these artificial sweeteners causes specific medical problems.
- There is no hard-and-fast data showing a link between saccharin and disease, though there have been studies in lab animals suggesting an increased risk for bladder cancer.
- There is no clear data showing a link between aspartame and disease, though there are claims that it is associated with an increased likelihood of certain types of cancer.
- There is no clear data that sucralose causes illness, though it has only been FDA-approved for 10 years, so long-term data is not available.
However, today's children will have a lifetime of exposure to these sweeteners, and we have no idea what the long-term implications are.

Another major problem is that even with calorie-free sugar alternatives, Americans continue to gain weight at a rapid clip.
- Portions in this country are enormous, and exercise at an all-time low.
- Many think that "diet" or "sugar free" on the label allows you to eat as much as you want and not gain weight--this is far from the truth.

We should go back to the philosophy that sweets should be consumed less frequently. Perhaps one home-baked cookie made with real sugar is going to turn out to be a whole lot healthier than the artificially sweetened treats claiming to offer less fat, less sugar and more taste.

Read more from Dr. Cara.

Dr. Cara Natterson, author of Your Toddler: Head To Toe, is a pediatrician and mother of 2. To buy a copy, click here. She is currently working on the forthcoming book entitled Dangerous or Safe?

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2 comments so far | Post a comment now
ashley September 9, 2008, 7:43 AM

My husband is overweight and I am just trying to keep mine where it is now so I only buy diet sodas and we quit drinking regular juice and I only buy Crystal Light and use Splenda in my tea. My mom argues with me that even though there are no calories in these sweeteners there is still “something”. I do not want my children to be overweight and I want my husband to lose weight so we will continue to drink artificial sweeteners. Also, my 6 year old son had to have 12 caps put on his teeth last year and my mil swears it was from all the sugar in the juice he drank when he was a baby. I don’t want that to happen to my 15 month old daughter so if she gets juice in her sippy it’s only sugar free.

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