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Sweets quicken child growth, study shows

All is not gloomy for parents who constantly worry about their children’s craving for sweets and sugary drinks.

A new research suggests that youngsters who love sugar most also have the highest growth rate.

Professor Susan Coldwell of the University of Washington recruited a group of 143 adolescents of 11 to 15 years of age to conduct the ‘sip and spit’ tests.

The results showed that children who expressed the highest sweetness about their drinks were found to have the fastest growth rate. ‘

The relationship between sweet preference and growth makes intuitive sense because when growth is rapid, caloric demands increase.

Children are programmed to like sweet taste because it fills a biological need by pushing them towards energy sources.’

Sweet solutions

The researchers took urine samples to test for the presence of a chemical linked to bone growth in children and teenagers.

They found children with the highest levels of the chemical were also those who most preferred the sweetest drinks.

Co-author Dr Danielle Reed, of the Monell Chemical Senses Centre, observed that, when markers of bone growth declined as children aged, so did their preference for highly sweet solutions.

The findings of this study which were reported in the American journal of Physiology and Behaviour, did not link the other elements of adolescence, such as puberty or increased testosterone to a like for sweet food or drink.

However, Junk foods stunt growth of children.

Experts claim that eating junk foods regularly stunts the growth of children besides making them sluggish in the classroom according to Dr Rashmi Dwivedi, head of paediatrics department, in Hamidia Hospital in India.

Besides, he said, “Attention deficit disorder’ (ADD) is commonly being observed in school children at a very early stage – due to high intake of junk foods and carbonated drinks”.

Added weight

The drinks are loaded with food additives in the form of artificial colours, flavours and preservatives.

For instance, the high sodium content in snack foods like chips, noodles etc, leads to water retention in the body which may present as oedema (body swelling) which will hamper physical activity due to added weight, making the children sluggish.

“If your child is addicted to one packet of noodles every day, then chances are, he is addicted to monosodium glutamate (MSG) used extensively as a flavour in ready to eat foods.

Intake of excess sodium will also lead to early hypertension which is now being linked to coronary heart disease, hypertension and stroke in children,” said Dr Rajiv Singh.