Chicago Health | Homepage
Why Pregnant Women Should Avoid Artificially Sweetened Beverages

Why Pregnant Women Should Avoid Artificially Sweetened Beverages

By Claire McCarthy, M.D.

Harvard Health Blog

For a while now, research has shown that when pregnant women gain a lot of weight, they have heavier babies. And because heavier babies tend to grow into heavier children who tend to grow into heavier adults, it’s a good idea for pregnant women to try not to gain more than their doctors tell them to.

One of the ways many of us try to limit calories is by reaching for artificially sweetened beverages — after all, they don’t have calories. But a study published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics suggests that drinking these beverages can backfire.

For the study, researchers in Canada studied more than 3,000 pregnant women and found that those who drank more artificially sweetened beverages tended to have heavier babies. The correlation was less strong when they controlled for the mother’s weight and other factors that can affect weight gain (like overall calorie intake or diet quality), but it was still there. It seems like there is something about the sweeteners themselves that is a problem.

There have been concerns for a while that artificial sweeteners might not be a great idea when it comes to weight control. In one study, people who drank diet soda gained more weight than those who drank regular soda. We’re not fully sure what’s going on. It may be that people feel so virtuous for drinking diet drinks that they end up eating other calories. It may have something to do with the intense sweetness of artificial sweeteners, which may actually alter our tastes in a way that less sweet foods (even fruits) don’t taste as good to us. Or it may be something about how our bodies digest and react to the chemicals in the sweeteners.

Whatever it is, the bottom line is that pregnant women should skip the diet drinks. As much as they might seem like they might help limit weight gain, they don’t. Instead, drink water and other unsweetened beverages. It’s fine to have the occasional soda or lemonade — sugar isn’t evil — as long as your overall diet is healthy (lots of fruits and vegetables, lean protein, whole grains) and you are getting regular exercise.

Baby fat may be cute, but it isn’t healthy. A third of our children and adolescents are overweight or obese, which can have terrible implications for their future health and well-being. More and more, we are learning that to prevent childhood obesity we need to start really early, even before children are born. The adage that you are eating for two is very true — but rather than an excuse to eat extra, it’s a mandate to eat in ways that keep both of you healthy.

(Claire McCarthy, M.D., is a faculty editor at Harvard Health Publications.)

(C) 2016. PRESIDENT AND FELLOWS OF HARVARD COLLGE. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, LLC.

Similar Articles

Gaining Strength

Gaining Strength

Post-op exercises help breast cancer survivors win control By Nancy Maes When a woman is first diagnosed

Defending Yourself Against Ovarian Cancer, The Silent Killer

Defending Yourself Against Ovarian Cancer, The Silent Killer

By Kate Silver When Angelina Jolie Pitt had a double mastectomy in 2013 to prevent breast

Count ingredients, not calories

Count ingredients, not calories

By Sharon Palmer, R.D.N. Shift your focus from the calories label to the ingredients label, and

Pneumonia a leading cause of hospitalization for children

Pneumonia a leading cause of hospitalization for children

What Doctors Know Source: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Pneumonia puts thousands of young children

Cartilage repair, restoration becoming more common

Cartilage repair, restoration becoming more common

DEAR MAYO CLINIC: I recently heard about cartilage being used in knee joints. Last summer

Articles By Category

Family Health

In The Know

CH Lifestyle

October 2016
Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
September 25, 2016 September 26, 2016 September 27, 2016 September 28, 2016 September 29, 2016 September 30, 2016 October 1, 2016
October 2, 2016 October 3, 2016 October 4, 2016 October 5, 2016 October 6, 2016 October 7, 2016 October 8, 2016
October 9, 2016 October 10, 2016 October 11, 2016 October 12, 2016 October 13, 2016 October 14, 2016 October 15, 2016
October 16, 2016 October 17, 2016 October 18, 2016 October 19, 2016 October 20, 2016 October 21, 2016 October 22, 2016
October 23, 2016 October 24, 2016 October 25, 2016 October 26, 2016 October 27, 2016 October 28, 2016 October 29, 2016
October 30, 2016 October 31, 2016 November 1, 2016 November 2, 2016 November 3, 2016 November 4, 2016 November 5, 2016

Categories

Recent Comments

Swing for the fences in the fight to Sideline Pancreatic Cancer

Swing for the fences in the fight to Sideline Pancreatic Cancer

Enjoy a great night of baseball at Peoples Natural

VIEW ARTICLE
Cost to give birth 1943 - Page 3 - Defending The Truth Political Forum

Cost to give birth 1943 - Page 3 - Defending The Truth Political Forum

A Hazy Shade of Healthcare: What does tort reform

VIEW ARTICLE

Archives