Over the last several decades, artificial sweeteners have become more and more commonplace in the American food supply. Given this trend, it shouldn’t be too surprising to learn that children are consuming more of this “fake sugar” than ever before.
According to research published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, consumption of artificial sweeteners among children has nearly tripled in recent years. This study based its conclusions on data from nearly 17,000 men, women and children. From 2009 to 2012, all of these individuals had participated in the National Health and Nutrition Evaluation Survey.
In 1999, approximately 9% of children ate products with low-calorie sweeteners, a category that includes aspartame, sucralose and saccharin. By 2012, this figure had risen dramatically to 25%, a nearly threefold increase. Listed below are some notable findings from the report:
- 44% of adults reported eating/drinking multiple items per day that included artificial sweeteners as an ingredient.
- One-fifth of children that participated in the study likewise consumed at least two such products daily.
- Children as young as two are now consuming products with sugar substitutes.
The study found a possible relationship between sweetener intake and body mass index. Specifically, those with higher BMIs tended to consume more sweetener-filled products than their skinnier counterparts.
It will take additional research to firmly establish the exact impact of artificial sweeteners on children’s health. In the meantime, study author Allison Sylvetsky offers parents two suggestions; jettison soda for drinking water, and use fruit to sweeten plain yogurt.