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Dr Russ Blog - Artifically Sweetened Milk?
Artifically Sweetened Milk?
Created on 4/5/2013

I had the good fortune to appear on The Dr. Oz Show recently to share an opinion on a recently hot topic - adding articificial sweeteners to flavored milk.

A big deal?

I think so. If for no other reason because the dairy industry would like to do so without informing shoppers of the added artifial sweeteners on the front package label.

They reason that doing so might turn kids and parents off, and the idea is to get kids to drink more milk.

At least, that appears to be the idea for dairy industry.

Drinking milk does have some health benefits and for many it simply tastes good. But it is not a mandatory part of the meal plan for children. There are plenty of other ways to get calcium, for example, into kids' diets.

Flavored milks are already widely available (think chocolate, etc) but they are usually laden with sugar, and we all know by now that's not a good thing.

A superficial glance might lead us to agree with the dairy industry - add artificial sweeteners and take out the added sugar - Voila! A milk beverage that doesn't increase blood sugar or increase the potential for weight gain.

Except... research shows that artifical sweeteners can make us crave more sweets by affecting specific centers in the brain. So while the artifically sweetened milk may not increase body weight or blood sugar in significant ways directly, it very likely will over time because we may start desiring (and eating) more sweet foods.

In addition, while it has been used for many years, a smattering of research studies have raised concerns about the safety of aspartame.

Beyond the merits of adding artifical sweeteners to flavored milk (and still calling it milk) remains the question of transparency. Kids and parents alike should not have to get past a front label splashed with "low calorie" only to find buried in the ingredients panel on the back the fact that artificial sweeteners have been added - to milk!

It remains to be seen whether or not the dairy industry will be permitted to add the sweetener to flavored milks. I think it's a bad idea all around - it seems less designed to impact health than to impact sales.

Regardless, all industries need to treat consumers as smart and be straight with us. If something is to be added to a food product we enjoy tell us up front, on the front. And then each of us can make our own decision whether or not to purchase the modifed product.

Be well.
Dr Russ
** Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment. **

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