Efforts still needed to fight childhood obesity

Attempting to cut down on childhood obesity, the USDA mandated that drinks sold in the public schools be limited in calories. I am sure, noble intentions were cited, but in doing so, they created a much greater health risk. As long as pop is still sold, vending machines are now only allowed to offer the diet version.

Studies show drinks containing aspartame can stimulate appetite and cause carbohydrate cravings. The American Cancer Society confirmed that users of artificial sweeteners gained more weight than those who didn’t. So switching out regular soda for their diet counterparts will probably have the opposite effect as intended.

Second, according to studies, excess phenylalanine, a byproduct of aspartame metabolism, reduces levels of serotonin and dopamine in the brain. Serotonin is responsible for mood changes, feelings of well-being, memory and the sleep/wake cycle. Dopamine functions to control movement and plays roles in cognition, motivation and sensations of pleasure. Decreased levels of serotonin and dopamine may contribute to major depressive disorder.

A study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, makes the following claims:

* Diet sodas raised the risk of diabetes more than sugar-sweetened sodas!

* Women who drank one 12-ounce diet soda daily had a 33% increased risk of Type 2 diabetes, and women who drank one 20-ounce soda had a 66% increased risk.

* Women, who drank diet soda, drank twice as much as those who drank sugar-sweetened sodas because artificial sweeteners are more addictive and much sweeter than their sugar counterparts.

Also, there are anecdotal reports linking aspartame to Parkinson’s disease, Hyperexcitability, Methanol Poisoning, and Cancer.

Although, I applaud Washington for their effort, we can’t turn a blind eye. As parents, we need to stay informed and ensure our children are educated to make the smart/healthy choices.

Tamy McAnsh