What Are the Dangers of Aspartame for Kids?

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Aspartame may increase health risks in children.
Aspartame may increase health risks in children. (Image: sick child image by Renata Osinska from Fotolia.com)

Aspartame is a highly controversial non-nutritive food supplement. In other words, aspartame does not provide any nutritional value to the foods and substances it is added to, and several medical researchers attest that aspartame is a dangerous substance to your health. Add to this the fact that children's bodies are constantly growing and developing, if aspartame does cause health problems in adults it may cause worse health issues in children.

Headaches

According to Medicine.net, when individuals are administered either placebos or aspartame, the participants who ingest the aspartame consistently report developing headaches after ingesting the aspartame, and report that the headaches are more severe than the headaches that they typically experience. These same symptoms were also reported to the Food and Drug Administration regarding children's consumption of aspartame.

Depression

According to Rense.com, Dr. Betty Martini states that the effects on children of ingesting aspartame include: increased depression, elevated anxiety levels and an increase in other mood disorders in children, and that aspartame also interacts with anti-depressant medications therefore interfering with treatment of these mood disorders. Dr. Martini states that phenylalanine is a neurotoxin which affects chemicals in the brain. When aspartame is broken down in the body one of the chemicals it is broken down into is phenylalanine which depletes serotonin levels in the brain, therefore triggering mood disorders. Since several children are diagnosed with recurring and co-occurring mood disorders it would be advisable that these children avoid aspartame.

Behavior Issues

Hyperactivity and trouble concentrating in children have been associated with ingesting aspartame. Unfortunately, even those parents reading food labels to ensure there is no aspartame in the food they give their children may miss the fact that there is aspartame in some substances. Substances such as pediatric medicine and diet foods may only state on the packaging that they contain phenylalanine, an amino acid used to make aspartame. The Food and Drug Administration only requires that companies provide a warning label for those sensitive to phenylalanine.

Increased Hunger

Several studies done with dieters have concluded that aspartame actually increases your hunger. According to the studies done by the Cancer Research Center of the European Foundation of Oncology and Environmental Sciences, aspartame may increase obesity and the risk of metabolic syndrome. The theory behind this effect is that aspartame tricks your taste buds into tasting sweetness but your brain is not satisfied and so you tend to consume more calories.

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