The study’s findings showed that children who suffer from breathing disorders during sleep received ADHD medication at a rate 7 times higher than children who don’t suffer from sleep-disordered breathing.
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Diet sodas and other snack foods can contain artificial sweeteners linked to health issues, believe researchers who have written about the ongoing concerns and health impacts of non-sugar sweeteners such as aspartame, sucralose and stevia. Food companies like Cargill sell stevia as a safe and natural alternative to sugar but no one knows the health effects on children and this worries nutritionists in the US.
These sweeteners are increasingly found in a variety of foods and beverages, including those aimed at children, the researchers report.
“Given the continued uncertainty about their role in the diet and accumulating evidence suggesting the potential for unfavorable health effects, a cautious approach to non-sugar sweeteners is warranted–especially when it comes to children,” said lead author of the viewpoint, Allison Sylvetsky, an associate professor of exercise and nutrition sciences at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health.
Sylvetsky and her team propose that the US Food and Drug Administration restrict use of non-sugar sweeteners in food and beverage products marketed to children until there is more definitive evidence of benefit or harm.
A viewpoint published in JAMA Pediatrics by three experts on the topic emphasizes that research on the health effects of non-sugar sweeteners in children is urgently needed.
Studies in adults demonstrate links between consumption of non-sugar sweeteners and type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality. However, few researchers have examined health impacts of non-sugar sweeteners when used by children.
At the same time, more and more foods and beverages with non-sugar sweeteners are consumed by children.
Parents often do not realize that products contain non-sugar sweeteners, Sylvetsky says. Parents may choose foods and beverages with non-sugar sweeteners thinking they are healthier, she adds.
Instead of choosing such products, Sylvetsky suggests parents focus on the healthfulness of the overall diet and choose fresh fruit and veggies, whole grains and limit provision of foods and beverages high in added sugars. Instead of buying fruit drinks sweetened with non-sugar sweeteners, stick to water or other unsweetened alternatives, she says.
Other options for parents: buy real food, cook at home and help children enjoy healthy snack habits from food that arrives in nature’s packaging.