The problem with 'diet' foods for your kids -

The problem with 'diet' foods for your kids

Despite an abundance of dietetic foods on grocery store shelves across the country, child obesity is at an all-time high.

"Obviously, diet foods are not helping Americans slim down," says Pediatrician Dr. Cara Natterson. She says diet foods can actually do more harm than good.

"When a parent goes to the store and buys something that's labeled diet, they're doing it for the right reasons. You're trying to reduce the number of calories that your kid eats. Unfortunately, what has happened is that people aren't just replacing serving for serving, but they're actually increasing the amount that they are eating in the diet food. So, instead of eating one regular cookie, someone might eat five diet cookies," says Dr. Natterson.

In fact, the artificial sweeteners used in "sugar-free" snacks can have the same effect as the sugar they're replacing.

"It is causing kids to develop a sweeter and sweeter palate, so they're looking for more sweet foods," says Dr. Natterson.

And just because a diet food has fewer calories doesn't mean your child's body will respond in the way you'd expect.

"When you consume a lot of diet foods, you change the metabolism of your body. And you actually don't metabolize calories as efficiently, and you might gain more weight," says Dr. Natterson. She suggests gradually reducing the amount of diet foods and snacks children eat by not replacing them after they've run out.

"If you talk to your kids about what you're doing, you're trying to create healthier eating habits for everyone in the family," says Dr. Natterson, "Explain to your kids, they're much more likely to go along with it. What they're not going to go along with is an ambush where you suddenly take away everything that they love and you replace it with all this stuff that they perceive as healthy and not good."

Dr. Natterson says parents should also practice portion control. "We don't need to show our kids a tremendous amount of food at once.We can serve smaller portions at a time. Slow down our kids' eating. And if they're hungry and they want more, we can always give more."

Just as with adults, the key to a child maintaining a healthy weight is moderation.

"Rather than focus on too many diet foods, maybe a couple of diet foods and many more whole foods that are healthy, that are going to get your kids well nourished, and that are going to get them on the path of really good nutrition," says Dr. Natterson.

Copyright 2012 America Now. All rights reserved.

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Fugitive Friday: Central Virginia's Most Wanted

    Fugitive Friday: Central Virginia's Most Wanted

    Friday, August 29 2014 10:04 AM EDT2014-08-29 14:04:54 GMT
    Fugitive Fridays tracks down Central Virginia's most wanted. Take a look at the photos and see if you can help police track down these suspects.
    Fugitive Friday helps track down Central Virginia's Most Wanted.
  • Six deadly foods for dogs

    Six deadly foods for dogs

    Every pet owner knows a dog can get into just about anything around the house. One woman found that out the hard way when her dog ate a bunch of grapes! Turns out, that's one of the most dangerous foods
    Every pet owner knows a dog can get into just about anything around the house. But these common snacks could be fatal for Fido.
  • Mouse droppings cause disease

    Mouse droppings cause respiratory disease

    Mice are one of the most resilient mammals living on the planet. Some people have them as pets, and they're also used in laboratory experiments. If wild mice get inside your house, they can potentially
    If wild mice find a way inside your home, they can potentially cause thousands of dollars worth of damage to your drywall and insulation. They can also transmit a harmful disease which can cause death in humans. 
Powered by WorldNow