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14th January 2020

Sugar-Free Is Not A Healthy Alternative For Kids

In our current high-octane society, much has been made about the downside of sugar consumption. Most of the discussion is invariably negative and designed to discourage that person who still has not hopped on the sugar-free bandwagon. Our obsession with sugar avoidance has led us to become parents who are suspiciously and consistently alert to even the occasional sweet tooth from our kids.

If you fall into this category of a parent, this piece is definitely for you. So, as implied in the foregoing preamble, imparting a sugar-free lifestyle on your kids is not necessarily a healthy alternative.

FEAR OF CALORIES

It is well known and pretty evident that the incidence and prevalence of obesity have mushroomed in the recent past. This sorry state of affairs is especially true among pre-adolescent children and extends on to teenagers. There are so many overweight children in our homes today, that the problem is now considered a public health emergency.

As a parent, you are likely to respond to such news with a reflex reaction. Why? Well, every person who happens to have a kid of their own, will do whatever it takes to give the child the best possible chance at life. Obesity is a hindrance to a productive life ergo your justifiable fear of calories. A majority of caretakers would instantly switch to a sugar-free diet, just to avoid the likelihood of a seeming weight gain.

MANAGING DIABETIC RISK

Diabetes is one of those endocrine diseases which is often blamed on our choice of lifestyle, and rightfully so. Although some cases of diabetes are hereditary (type 1), this has not stopped society from viewing the sufferers in an accusatory manner. It is almost as if you are to blame for your predicament.

Now, how can you handle the risk of diabetes in your children? This query is rather subjective, but the common reaction is similar to the caloric response above. The parent decides to withdraw all forms of sugar from the kid's diet in a fashion akin to going cold turkey.

WHAT ABOUT ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS?

Considering artificial sweeteners as a substitute, for what you deem as harmful sugar full of calories, is a common route among most parents. Your children, being as young as they are, will invariably develop a sweet tooth as they grow up. The proclivity for sweet food and frequent snacks is characteristic of most young humans. As a result, the parent who finds it challenging to eliminate all types of sugars, will opt for the artificial substitute. Common examples of such sweeteners include sucralose, saccharin, and aspartame.

PROBABLE IMPACT OF INTERVENTIONS

Depending on which method you decide to control the sugar consumption in your kid, the results will be varied as well. Studies have shown that replacing the natural sucrose, fructose or dextrose with their artificial counterparts, outlined above, may be counterproductive after all. Ideally, the psychological response to imminent sugar intake is predetermined.

Upon tasting something sweet, the brain immediately sends signals to the pancreas with instructions to secrete insulin. However, in the absence of sugar, the insulin lacks a substrate on which to act. If this scenario carries on over a prolonged period, your child will run the risk of developing insulin resistance. With insulin resistance, the potential for deteriorating to type 2 diabetes is significantly high. Therefore, in such a paradoxical way, your obsession with avoiding a diabetic risk, eventually leads to the very outcome which you loathe.

An alternative impact of diligent sugar-control is weight gain. Another paradox as well. This effect often occurs when you fail to consider aspects of sugar control as a singular, all-inclusive issue. A child's health and fitness are typically the products of eating behavior. Kids rarely develop obesity or gain weight based on a diet of sugar alone. They end up with such weights due to a combination of high-calorie foods. Therefore, removing a single item of food from the kid's diet will not result in a positive outcome, as long as other sources of calories are still available.

WAY FORWARD

As much as you wish to save your kids from the harmful effects of sugars, train your parental instincts to appreciate the potential downsides from uninformed interventions. After all, it is better, and healthy, to use sugar in moderation rather than getting rid of it altogether.

Source: Moms.com