Children eating diet foods in lieu of the full-calorie versions may lead to overeating and obesity when they grow up, according to a report from the University of Alberta, Canada.
In the study, young rats were fed either a regular diet or low-calorie substitutes. The low-calorie versions led the rats to overeat, whether they were lean or genetically predisposed to obesity. Adult rats, however, did not show the same tendency to overeat.
The researchers believe that diet foods with low calorie content disrupt the body’s ability to use taste to regulate caloric intake. This would explain why older animals did not overeat, as they, unlike the younger rats, were able to rely on taste-related cues to assess the energy value of their food correctly.
Lead researcher Professor David Pierce stated, "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.”
University of Alberta August 8, 2007
BBC News August 8, 2007
Eurekalert August 8, 2007
MedicineNet.com August 8, 2007