What's Really in Your Child's Juice?

Low-calorie sweetener consumption may be increasing among children

(RxWiki News) Low-calorie sweeteners like aspartame are a growing part of American children's diets, according to a new study.

And because some studies have suggested that these sweeteners are linked to obesity, diabetes and other health issues, that could be a problem, said the researchers behind this study.

Low-calorie sweeteners, such as aspartame, neotame, saccharin and sucralose, often replace added sugars or high-fructose corn syrup in food products. Products that contain low-calorie sweeteners are typically marketed as diet, low-calorie, no-sugar-added, light or sugar-free. 

This new study, conducted by researchers at George Washington University, evaluated a survey that included more than 16,000 participants. 

The number of children who consumed low-calorie sweeteners increased exponentially between 1999 and 2012, this study found. Data from 1999-2000 showed 8.7 percent of children had reported consuming these sweeteners. By 2009-2012, that figure had reached 25.1 percent.

Many parents may opt for the "no-sugar-added" products because they think they are healthier, which, based on past research, may not be the case. 

For those who want to stay away from low-calorie sweeteners, lead study author Dr. Allison Sylvetsky recommended in a press release to, "Drink water instead of soda. Sweeten a serving of plain yogurt with a little fruit. And don't forget an apple or another piece of fresh fruit is a great snack for both kids and adults."

Speak with your child's pediatrician about how to implement a healthy diet for your family. 

This study was recently published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 

The Department of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences at George Washington University and the Intramural Research Program of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases at the National Institutes of Health funded this study. The authors disclosed no potential conflicts of interest.