Diet Foods Will Cause Obesity, Not Cure It

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 August 8, 2007

Dr. Mercola's Comments:

Obesity is a major risk factor for developing both type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, so making sure your children are eating a proper diet right out of the gate is truly vital for their future long-term health. 

What’s Wrong With Diet Foods? 

Although many believe a low-calorie diet is part of an anti-aging, life-extending regimen, it definitely does not include the commercially available “diet,” or “low-calorie” varieties of food, and is not an appropriate route for growing youngsters. These pre-packaged processed diet foods, which are sold as “healthier alternatives,” are anything but healthy. 

I believe there is a MAJOR confusion about low calorie diets, and that in many, they may cause more harm than good. I suspect most of the studies supporting a low calorie diet are associated with living a longer life have a serious interpretative flaw.  My strong belief is that the reason low calorie diets work is that they normalize insulin and leptin levels and keep them nice and low. You can keep them low with a low calorie diet, but for many this may actually cause more harm than good, especially the emotional harm of depriving yourself of food.

If you eat according to your nutritional type it will be possible to normalize your insulin levels the way they were designed to, and you do NOT have to have a low calorie diet. You will feel full and satisfied and not be constantly hungry. That alone is enough to radically improve your life span.

But getting back to low calorie foods.  To make these products even remotely appealing to your taste buds, they usually contain one or more artificial taste enhancers and sugar substitutes, such as MSG (monosodium glutamate) and aspartame. Both of which are extremely detrimental to your health.  

Aspartame and MSG act as neurotransmitters in the brain, by facilitating the transmission of information from neuron to neuron. Too much aspartame or glutamate in the brain kills certain neurons by allowing the influx of too much calcium into the cells. This influx triggers excessive amounts of free radicals, which kill the cells. 

The neural cell damage that can be caused by excessive aspartame and glutamate is why they are referred to as "excitotoxins." They "excite",  or stimulate the neural cells to death. 

Unfortunately, many food manufacturers hide the fact that their products contain MSG, making it more difficult for you to avoid it. They may list ingredients like these instead (which still contain MSG):

    • Gelatin
    • Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein (HVP)
    • Yeast Extract
    • Malted Barley
    • Rice Syrup or Brown Rice Syrup

I recommend you watch this informative video by Dr. Russell Blaylock, a board-certified neurosurgeon and author of Excitotoxins: The Taste that Kills, if you want more information about these dangerous food additives.

Another thing you need to know is that low-cal products, such as diet sodas, do NOT help you lose weight!  This is a complete myth. In fact, nearly a decade ago studies were already revealing that artificial sweeteners can:

    • Stimulate your appetite
    • Increase carbohydrate cravings
    • Stimulate fat storage and weight gain

All the way back in 1986, the American Cancer Society documented the fact that persons using artificial sweeteners gain more weight than those who avoid them. Whether you are trying to lose pounds or maintain your weight, using an artificial sweetener such as aspartame does not seem to have any significant effect on weight control.

Those extra calories you saved by drinking a diet pop won't make much of a difference, if you still need to satisfy your hunger and indulge in several cookies, later.

Healthy Solutions for Life 

I’m thankful that we’re seeing more scientific recommendations promoting the return to a balanced diet and exercise. That’s really the long-term answer. 

Unfortunately, some doctors and pediatricians still recommend diet sodas to overweight children as an acceptable alternative to regular sodas and sugary juices. Hopefully you’re not falling for it. Your child needs water -- enough so that their urine is a light, pale yellow (if it is a deep yellow, they are not drinking enough water). Soda, juice, and milk do not count toward this requirement.

Actually, it is very sad to read that the leading source of vitamins and minerals in children's diets comes from juice and pasteurized milk, both of which should be avoided in a diet for optimal health.

Give your child the gift of life, again and again, by putting them on the road to lifelong optimal health with these commonsense recommendations:

  • Determine your child's nutritional type and prepare your family's meals accordingly.
  • Encourage your child to exercise for at least 30 minutes daily -- think of fun activities that you can do as a family like bike riding, hiking, or sports.
  • Turn off the television, not only in favor of more physical activities but also to reduce your kid's exposure to junk food ads.
  • Switch soda and other sugary drinks to water flavored with a fresh squeeze of lemon or lime (or both)  -- each daily soda increases your child's (and your) obesity risk by 60 percent!

If you have experienced an adverse reaction to any aspartame product, report it to the FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinator in your area.

For more information on the dangers of aspartame, visit

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