Kids’ Diet Foods Do More Harm Than Good, Study Shows

Note from Connie: Parents, watch out, if you give your young children diet foods and beverages, you just might just be pre-programming them for later obesity. Those are the findings of a study from Canadian researchers at the University of Alberta. Consuming these low-calorie replacements for more calorie-rich foods may interfere with a child’s ability to make connections between the taste of a food and its calorie content. Karen updates you about this study.

After researchers led by sociologist W. David Pierce, Ph.D., gave both lean and genetically obese juvenile  (4-weeks-old) rats low-cal versions of foods and drinks for 16 days, they found that the rats proceeded to overeat when given regular-calorie versions of the same foods, according to their article published in Obesity.


One Or More Soft Drinks Linked to Metabolic Syndrome, Study Finds

The evidence against soda — both high-fructose corn-syrup filled and artifically sweetened — keeps mounting.

Today, yet another study, which appeared appeared online in this month’s Circulation, revealed that middle-aged people adults one or more soft drinks — whether sugar-filled or "diet" drinks — have a higher prevalence and incidence of multiple metabolic risk factors, AP and CBS reported.

The biggest surprise to researchers was that drinking diet sodas could have that kind of health-harming effect, too.

The study’s senior author, Vasan Ramachandran, M.D., D.M., told CBS that the findings don’t show diet sodas are a cause of increased heart disease risks, but he said they show a surprising link that must be studied.

Although the president of the soda industry’s trade organization, the American Beverage Association, pooh-poohed the fact that diet soda could be linked to weight gain, this concept actually is nothing new, and I’ve written several times previously, including here and here, about this "paradoxical weight gain" effect.

For the study, researchers looked at 9,000 middle-aged men and women, who are part of the massive, multi-generational heart study following residents of Framingham, Mass., a town about 25 miles west of Boston.

Watch the CBS news video with Dr. Jon LaPook.

Speaking of CBS, are you aware of the fabulous CBS News Sunday Morning story, "Americans May Be Too Sweet on Sugar," for which I was interviewed a month ago?

Cancer Prevention Study Urges Immediate Review of Aspartame Safety

Note from Connie: Oh goodness, here comes the latest in a number of studies suggesting that aspartame could be dangerous. As I mention in my book SUGAR SHOCK!, in spite of the fact that experts insist the artificial sweetener is safe, more than 10,000 complaints flooded the FDA, reporting 92 different symptoms. Now, here’s Karen’s item on this new, alarming study.

Aspartame caused dose-related increases of lymphomas, leukemias and breast cancer in rats when ingested at levels approaching "acceptable daily intake" for humans, according to a study conducted by the European Ramazzini Foundation (ERF) and recently reported on by

The study, "Lifespan Exposure to Low Doses of Aspartame Beginning During Prenatal Life Increases Cancer Effects in Rats," confirmed earlier findings by the non-profit cancer prevention organization that identified the artificial sweetener as a carcinogen and demonstrated that those effects increased when lifespan exposure began during fetal life.

Groups of male and female rats ingested aspartame with their feed at concentrations of 2,000, 400 or zero parts per million from their twelfth day of fetal life until natural death. Among the results:

  • 31.4 percent of female rats and 17.1 percent of male rats that received aspartame at a concentration of 2,000 ppm developed lymphomas or leukemias.
  • 12.6 percent of female rats and 9.5 percent of male rats that received no aspartame developed lymphomas or leukemias.
  • 15.7 percent of female rats and 2.9 percent of male rats that received aspartame at a concentration of 2,000 ppm developed breast cancer.
  • 5.3 percent of female rats and zero male rats that did not receive aspartame developed breast cancer.

The report appeared online earlier this month in the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences journal Environmental Health Perspectives and issued a chilling conclusion:

"On the basis of the present findings, we believe that a review of the current regulations governing the use of aspartame cannot be delayed. This review is particularly urgent with regard to aspartame-containing beverages, heavily consumed by children."

By Karen James for SUGAR SHOCK! Blog

Equal Blasts Rival Splenda In Court Disputing Its “Made-From-Sugar” Claims

The artificial sweetener wars are now being duked out in the courts.

"In one corner is the artificial sweetener in the blue packet, Equal; in the other is its best-selling rival in the yellow packet, Splenda," New York Times reporter Lynnley Browning aptly explained.

Essentially, Merisant, makers of Equal and NutraSweet are pouncing on Splenda’s heavily marketed tagline “Made from sugar, so it tastes like sugar." This is a claim that Equal denounces as an “urban myth” on its Web site.

Anyhow, now Merisant has to convince a jury that McNeil Nutritionals, a division of Johnson & Johnson, has been misleading consumers by claiming in TV and print ads, as well as labeling, that Splenda contains sugar, Associated Press writer Maryclaire Dale reported after Tuesday’s proceedings, the first day in court.

Interestingly, the lawyer for McNeil [Splenda] insisted that rival Merisant filed suit in 2004 simply because Splenda — which was introduced seven years ago — outsells Equal about 4-to-1. "Now… Merisant wants to blame its misfortunes on false advertising," McNeil attorney Steven Zalesin claimed.

McNeil (Splenda) attorney Zalesin made another very telling remark, too — that no sugar substitute advertises itself as an artificial sweetener, the AP reported. The lawayer also revealed that marketers all use what he called "code" language, such as the term "no-calorie sweetener." (Clearly, they don’t want us consumers to realize that chemicals galore are used to create these products.)

To see the truth as the artificial companies themselves present it, you can go to Equal’s website or that of rival Splenda.

But before you believe their stories, please check out my book SUGAR SHOCK!, where you can get all kinds of questions answered about artificial sweeteners. In fact, I went to several experts to get their take and their observations are quite enlightening.

Author (Not I) Talks About Her Sugar Addiction & How Americans Need to Get Savvy to Its Dangers

Cool, I just found another author who’s also working hard to get the message out about sugar’s dangers! (Thank you Google, for your fabulous alerts! What would I do without them?)

…So I just learned about Denise Martin, author of 2005 book, Eating My Way to Heaven (Book Publishers Network), who had some pretty provocative things to say about the sweet white substance.

Darn, this could have been me making these remarks, which I found in the online edition of Black Star News.

Here’s a brief section of the article, entitled, "Sugar’s Health Perils":

"What people need to know is just how destructive refined sugar can be to our mind, body and spirit," explains Martin, author of "Eating My Way to Heaven" (Book Publishers Network, 2005). "For me, and many others around the country, sugar addiction started at a young age. Well-intended parents reward children with sugary snacks, turning a biochemically harmful substance into a comfort food. Then, when we hit a bump in life we turn to our favorite substance – a sugar treat!"

Hurrah to you, Denise, for speaking out! You and I need to meet and work together! No question about it!

As you read this article, it gets even more interesting. The Syndicated News piece (non-bylined, or I’d give credit), continues: "She co-founded the first Sugar Detox Center in the country, working with people diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), depression, diabetes and even Autism!"

Wow! A sugar detox center? I have to learn more about this! I have to get involved! Right away!

And Denise even (yes, I have to use her first name — we’re clearly kindred souls), as the article says, "took her message on a 2100-mile hitchhiking journey to tell it to Oprah."

I’m trying to dig up Denise’s information and contact her right now!       

Oh, before I forget, the article low balls the amount of sugar the average American takes in his or her poor body. People tend to use the 150-pounds-a year consumption figure (or the 148-pounds-a-year one) but some experts believe it’s much higher than that.

In fact, in my book SUGAR SHOCK! (which I recommend you buy today on, I cite an expert saying the figure is more like 170 pounds a year or just shy of a cup a dy.

Watch Out for “Diet Foods” That Can Make You Fat

For those of you seeking to peel off some pounds, you’ll get some juicy, non-caloric tidbits in this piece in Glee from director of nutrition services Susan Burke, M.S., R.D., L.D./N., C.D.E.

She gives you the skinny on juice, enhanced waters, protein bars, “diet bread,” and other foods.

I was pleased to this savvy nutritionist lambast foods that tend to fool consumers. In fact, I applaud her for pointing out (as I do, in my upcoming book SUGAR SHOCK!) the truth about deceptive fat-free foods. Here’s how she rightly urges you to beware of the trap that’s easy to fall into when you nosh on those innocent-seeming sweets:

“Fat-free Cookies: Fat-free doesn’t mean calorie-free. It doesn’t even mean reduced-calorie, and fat-free products contain other ingredients, usually sugar, to make up for the texture and flavor lost when the fat is removed. Most fat-free cookies contain as many calories as the original cookie, which doesn’t make them diet food.”

Read Burke’s interesting article now.

Incidentally, here’s another interesting article Burke wrote. This one, which appears on Web MD, spotlights the “7 Do’s and Don’ts to Boost Your Metabolism.”

You Could Gain Weight If You Drink Diet Soda, Study Says

If you drink diet soda, it’s supposed to help you lose weight, right? Not so fast. Exactly the opposite could be occurring in a phenomenon that some experts call a “paradoxical weight gain.”

Indeed, studies from the quarter-century-long, community-based epidemiological study conducted at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, “paradoxically suggest that the more diet sodas a person drinks, the greater the chance that he or she will become overweight or obese,” according to an HSC press release.

“On average, for each diet soft drink our participants drank per day, they were 65 percent more likely to become overweight during the next seven to eight years, and 41 percent more likely to become obese,” said Sharon Fowler, M.P.H., faculty associate in the division of clinical epidemiology in the Health Science Center’s department of medicine. She presented the finding at the American Diabetes Association’s 65th Annual Scientific Sessions.

OK, I have a confession to make of a journalistic nature. Yes, I made this sound like hot new research. Let me be transparent here. The fact is that, while doing some fact checking for my upcoming book SUGAR SHOCK! — I’m in the midst of one of many long whirlwind weekend marathon work sessions I ran across this news release that I’d previously seen a year ago.

But, last June when when I first reported this, my blog was brand new — like 6 days old. So, naturally, it didn’t have much traffic. Thankfully, it’s grown considerably since then, and since I suspect that many of you have never heard of this mind-boggling study, I felt that it was my obligation to again bring this conclusion to your attention.

So, diet soda drinkers out there, beware! Read the fascinating press release and WebMD’s article to learn more.

Forward-Thinking Researcher Suggests That Sugar-Filled “Poisoned” Food Supply May to Blame for Obesity

If you’ve among the two-thirds of Americans who are overweight or obese, read this first before blaming yourself for being short on self-control when it comes to those tempting, refined carbs that entice you just about everywhere you go.

Instead, our heavily processed, "poisoned," sugar-loaded food supply may be altering your biochemistry and driving you to eat more and more–and making you less inclined to get off your butt and exercise.

So hypothesizes nationally renowned obesity expert Robert Lustig, M.D,, a pediatric endocrinologist at the University of California, San Francisco, in the most recent issue of Art_robert_lustig_md_1721 Nature Cliinical Practice: Endocrinology and Metabolism.

Folks, this is really big news for those of you who’ve been having challenges saying no to all those sugar-filled, highly refined carbs that you’ve been consuming — like crackers, cookies, yogurt, and white bread.

Basically, Dr. Lustig believes that eating large amounts of sugar makes your body produce more insulin, which, in turn, blocks vital hormones that should normally tell your brain to stop eating.

What’s more, he theorizes, all that excess sugar makes your brain switch into starvation response mode. That then triggers more eating and activates lethargy (you know, the post-sugar "blahs") so that you can conserve energy. And then those extra unused calories are stored as fat. .

According to Dr. Lustig’s hypothesis, "sugar in large quantities drives up insulin secretion," reported in the San Francisco Chronicle.

In one of the more fascinating, well-researched articles I’ve seen recently about this subject — and I’ve seen probably thousands while working on my upcoming book SUGAR SHOCK!Chronicle staff reporter Erin Allday explains:

"This insulin floods the brain, and in particular the hypothalamus, which regulates energy use in the body. As a result, leptin, a hormone that tells the brain when the body needs more or less energy, can’t get its signal to the hypothalamus because the insulin is blocking the way."

Allday continues:

"The result is that the body is thrown into starvation mode — the brain thinks it isn’t getting enough energy, so it needs more calories and it needs to save energy, he said. People end up feeling the symptoms of starvation, including malaise, depression, a lack of motivation and, of course, hunger."

Sound familiar? And guess what — all those tempting, culprit carbs sold by major corporations could be what’s driving your poor body into confusion and obesity. That’s right.

"It’s because of the toxic environment that the insulin rises and the problem behavior ensues," Dr. Lustig told Allday.

"That’s why all of these diet programs don’t work. That’s why telling people to diet and exercise alone won’t work, unless you improve the toxic environment as well."

Dr. Lustig contends that it’s vital to break the pattern of sugar consumption, one that he compares to nicotine addiction. (Hurrah, Dr. Lustig! You’re so onto something here! In fact, you just have to read my upcoming book SUGAR SHOCK!, because I discuss some of these same things.)

Folks, I can’t tell you how exciting this is to have a cutting-edge pediatric endocrinologist putting forth these fascinating theories. (As you can see, Dr. Lustig’s training is impressive and includes a bachelor’s degree is from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), a medical degree is from Cornell University Medical College, a pediatric residency at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, and and a clinical fellowship in pediatric endocrinology at UCSF.)


Low Carb Luxury Runs My Article on “How fo Find an Open-Minded Doctor Who `Gets’ Your Sugar Habit”

My article, How fo Find an Open-Minded Doctor Who "Gets" Your Sugar Habit, appears in this month’s Low Carb Luxury.

I wrote this piece in response to many, many requests from people trying to kick sugar. They kept pleading for information on how to find a savvy physician who has a grasp on the dangers of blood sugar problems — both high (diabetes) and low (hypoglycemia).

The Low Carb Luxury Online Magazine: Volume VII / Number 8: August 2006

Sweetener Sales Allegedy Down, But Let Me Un-Confuse You

Interesting report — but one that I feel is ultimately misleading — about the market for sugar, sugar substitutes, table syrups, molasses and honey for in-home consumption.

The study points out that retail sales (in supermarkets and grocery chains) have fallen 14% in the past 6 years, with white granulated sugar dropping the most at 20%.  It also notes that honey and Splenda have been responsible for phenomenal growth in this area.

You’d think I’d be celebratory, right? Not so fast. Look, I’m too sick to read the entire report, but unless I overlooked something, this report does not take into account all the sweeteners slipped into our foods — or what many call "hidden sugars." (Like the sugars you get in ketchup, cereals, salad dressings, crackers, etc.)

It also doesn’t include fruit concentrates or other corn-based, highly chemically refined sweetener componnets like maltodextrin or modified corn starches. And what about all that sugar in soda and sports drinks? So when they’re saying retail sales of all these sweeteners in grocery stores is down, that’s not entirely true.

FYI, that when I did the math (over and over again, I might add) for my upcoming book SUGAR SHOCK!, I found that sales and consumption of refined sugars has increased — but people have been, in fact, consuming less sucrose and more high high fructose corn syrup.

Anyhow, the report claimed that

"Americans’ changing dietary habits are the main force driving down retail sales. Concerns about obesity and diabetes may well be factors, along with a long-term decline in home baking."

Then the analysis amused me — or dismayed me — not sure which emotion I feel:

"Mintel’s research also makes it clear that younger consumers are less likely than older ones to engage in the time-honored practice of adding sweeteners to their foods and beverages. While trends such as these are interesting from a health perspective, they point to a time of adjustment ahead for the retail sugar and sweetener business."

"Time-honored practice of adding sweeteners" to foods? Oh, please! What an absurd, biased way to describe it!

How about more appropriately calling it a health-defying practice of adding sweeteners to foods?