Eating diet foods causes children to flunk out of calorie school

brain learning about caloriesI was a chubby kid, so diet foods have always been IN my life. The big question of course, is did the diet foods help keep me from exploding into a two ton Tessie my mother believed I was destined to BE, or did they programme me for a lifetime of weight problems.

I suspect in my case, they probably set me up for a life time of fat troubles.

The learning brain

The brain starts out clueless of calorie maths.

But it quickly learns how to do calorie maths, so by the time it is fully wired – it knows approx how many calories are associated with specific tastes.

The golden rule of calorie maths……………………….

Sweet things taste really good. Fatty foods taste good too. And green vegetables suck.


Sweet things are full of calories. Fatty foods are really full of calories. Vegetables are for rabbits.

Rats go to calorie school

A research team from the University of Alberta sent “baby” rats, to calorie school.

The “baby” rats were either given the real thing or given the “diet” equivalent. The “baby” rats had no qualms about packing the food in. When it was low-calorie, they ate a lot more than when they encountered the real thing. Predictably, the more they ate, the chubbier they got, those with a genetic predisposition to be obese, lived up to their genes and became obese.

The experiment was repeated with “adolescent” rats. The teenage rats were a lot more discerning. Teenage rats did not overeat – period.

Mathematically challenged

The researchers speculate that adolescent rats can do the maths. When chomping on a morsel, they use taste-related cues, to figure out the energy value of the food. When they have consumed enough calories to meet their needs – THEY STOP EATING !

“Baby” rats are mathematically challenged, since their brain has not worked out how caloric content is connected with taste.

Kids eating diet foods

Human children are just like the “baby” rats – their brains need to learn how to count calories. A process which should happen naturally, since in nature, calorie count is closely correlated with taste.

BUT the wiring gets crossed…………. because diet soda, tastes sweet, but ZERO calories.

The brain learns sweet things are calorie FREE.

Wired to overeat

So……when you encounter something sweet, you need to eat more of it, to get enough calories to sustain you. And sweet food tastes really good, so the more the merrier.

The rule is suitable for a world composed exclusively of diet foods, but is seriously flawed when eating “normal” food.

Living according to this disconnect, causes energy in, to routinely exceed energy out, because the brain doesn’t know when to stop. An energy recipe, which inevitably produces weight gain.

Avoid distorted calorie connections

Diet foods are a neat way to cook the books and keep those pounds off, most of the time – AS LONG AS YOU ARE A GROWN UP !

In babes, it can do the opposite.

If you’re feeding junior, try steer clear of calorie cheats and make sure every calorie on the plate is a real.

Taste conditioning can leave your child with a taste for obesity.

Diet foods for children may lead to obesity  - press release appearing on EurekaAlert ! 

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Further reading

fat kid drinking low fat milk little boy cleaning the plate ghrelin on a shopping spree
The fat kids are all drinking low fat milk The danger of “finish your broccoli or else” The brain’s fussy eater defence makes food look yummier

The 7 Big Spoons™…. are master switches that turn health on.

balance eicosanoids rein in insulin dial down stress sleep vitamin D microflora think
Balance Eicosanoids Rein in insulin Dial down stress Sleep ! Increase Vit D Culivate microflora Think champion

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