Sweetener concerns

Advice on whether or not your children should avoid artificial sweeteners

Q: My 10-year-old keeps asking for diet pop. I’m not a fan of pop in general, but I am particularly concerned about artificial sweeteners. Are they safe for kids?

A: My first reaction is: Why give something non-nutritious to a child when growth is at its peak? The jury is still out on artificial sweeteners. But because they are entirely unnecessary, artificial sweeteners should be avoided in the diet of a healthy child. Natural sugars found in fruit should be the sweet taste your son develops. Offer water to quench his thirst.

And for the rare time when pop is impossible to avoid, I would opt for one that contains sugar rather than artificial sweeteners. It’s very important to model good nutrition to your son, so be sure to stick to healthy food choices yourself.

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