Feeding children diet food may actually help make them fat, the BBC reports. Young rats who had been given low-calorie versions of ordinarily high-calorie food begin to gain weight when they were switched to regular fare, a new study found. Rather than stop eating when they reached a certain calorie level, they continued to consume at the same level they had on the low-cal version.
All put on weight, whatever they were intitally lean or not. Researchers theorize that the body uses taste to regulate calorie intake, and young children were unable to distinguish between low- and high-calorie versions. By adolescence, the rats could discern the difference and therefore did not tend to overeat. “Diet foods are probably not a good idea for growing youngsters,” concluded the lead researcher.