Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Candy in Moderation May Keep Kids' Waistlines in Check

It's almost a rule that kids love candy. Lollipops, gummi bears and gum balls; they're designed for kids' little fingers, wide eyes and healthy appetites. Sadly, however, as childhood overweight and obesity is on the rise, most kids don't look the way they used to in the past and the image of a little kid with a big lollipop is enough to spark outrage. What about their teeth? What about their overall health? Basically, the subject of candy causes a frenzy among parents and health professionals alike. Interestingly, based on new research findings, it turns out that kids who enjoy candy more often actually tend to have smaller waistlines than their non-sweet-toothed counterparts.

The 11,182 kids and adolescents in this study were aged 2-13 and 14-18 years old. The association between candy consumption and total energy, fat, and added sugar intakes, as well as diet quality, weight and body fat (adiposity) measures and risk factors for cardiovascular disease were examined.

Similar to a previous study that was published earlier this year, the researchers discovered that kids who enjoy candy in moderation from time to time tend to have more balanced diets overall and better control over their weights. Whether they understand it or not, they somehow seem to have a better grasp of the concept of energy balance, successfully managing calories in and calories out over time. They did, however, have higher overall intakes of sugar compared to those kids who did not eat candy.

The results of this study, as with those found in the adult group, are not meant to suggest that kids should eat candy, or that they can have as much as they want. This was not an investigation of causation; candy consumption does not make the children less overweight or obese. All that we can gather from this study is the simple fact that foods should not be contraband, especially in children. As we know, placing restrictions on foods, eating or any other behaviour tends to result in retaliation, whether conscious or subconscious, in children and adolescents. When given treats and favourite foods in moderation, with the understanding that physical activity, fruits, veggies, healthy foods, vitamins and minerals are all important, children, like adults, can successfully enjoy all foods without restrictions.