Children and healthy eating: the “sugar trick” backfires

Some parents sprinkle sugar on foods such as fruit or yogurt to encourage their children to adopt a healthier diet. But this trick backfires, according to a new study. (Image: Monkey Business / fotolia.com)

Healthy child nutrition: What parents shouldn't do under any circumstances

Some parents encourage their offspring to adopt a healthier diet by sprinkling a little sugar on foods such as fresh strawberries or natural yoghurt. But this trick backfires, as researchers are now reporting. Because children who consume sugared fruits or dairy products have a higher risk of obesity in the long term.

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More and more children are way too fat

According to international research, the number of obese children has increased dramatically. There are also more and more overweight people living in Germany. Obesity (obesity) can result in a variety of diseases. To counter the problem, the main risk factors for being overweight need to be addressed: sedentary lifestyle and unhealthy diet. But how can you positively influence children's eating habits? In any case, not with the so-called “sugar trick”, as a study has now shown.

Some parents sprinkle sugar on foods such as fruit or yogurt to encourage their children to adopt a healthier diet. But this trick backfires, according to a new study. (Image: Monkey Business / fotolia.com)

A child's body needs a lot of energy

Evolution actually meant it quite well with us. Especially in childhood, when our body needs a lot of energy because of growth, we have a pronounced appetite or even cravings for sweets.

But what was an advantage in a primeval world of shortage can cause problems in an affluent society, writes the Leibniz Institute for Prevention Research and Epidemiology - BIPS in a press release.

The proportion of overweight and obese children has multiplied worldwide over the past few decades.

From the point of view of science, in addition to a lack of physical activity, the increased consumption of high-sugar sweets and "soft drinks" is primarily responsible for this.

Teaching a healthy diet

Many parents therefore rightly try to teach their offspring a healthy, low-sugar diet.

But not all children are happy when there is "only" healthy fruit and vegetables.

Some parents therefore sprinkle sugar on the fresh fruit and on the natural yoghurt or cocoa in the milk to give the little ones a little sweet start-up help on their way to a healthy diet.

But what is well-intentioned can have negative effects in the longer term, as a current study by BIPS now shows.

Diet quality decreased

To this end, the international team of researchers from Italy, Belgium, Sweden, Spain, Estonia and Germany evaluated the data from the more than 16,000 children who took part in the European IDEFICS study on child obesity.

A large number of these children were examined again after two years as part of the study led by BIPS in order to identify changes over time.

According to the scientists, the analysis showed a clear picture.

The children who consumed more sugared fruits, smoothies and dairy products at the time of the first study showed clearly more signs of overweight and obesity two years later than the comparison group.

In addition, the quality of their diet had decreased more frequently and more sharply - that is, it had become less healthy - than that of the control group.

Avoid sweetening fruits and dairy products as much as possible

"The results show that adding sugar to healthy foods - even if it is well-intentioned - tends to do the opposite," said Dr. Antje Hebestreit, head of the lifestyle-related diseases group at BIPS and co-author of the study.

"Our assumption is that the shaping of taste, which we experience particularly at a young age, plays an important role here," says the expert.

"Anyone who often consumes sweets as a child - even if they only have small amounts of added sugar - will later use sugary foods more often and thus increase their risk of developing obesity and metabolic disorders such as diabetes," explained Dr. Lifting dispute.

“Our recommendation is therefore to largely avoid using sugar, honey and instant powder for sweetening fruit and dairy products. It makes more sense to deliberately offer the children a wide variety of flavors in order to prevent them from getting bored at the dining table and from monotonous and therefore unhealthy food choices in later years. "

And: "Those who rely on diversity instead of sugar are also much more likely to provide their children with the wide range of nutrients that children need for their growth and well-being." (Ad)

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