Overweight Kids Consume More Excess Calories Daily Than Previously Thought


Childhood obesity is a nightmare, and now there’s more bad news: Overweight kids are consuming far more calories than their doctors or parents realize. That’s according to a new study published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology. Researchers updated a formula that doctors use to calculate kids’ calorie intake; based on the change, the researchers found that kids today are consuming 200 calories more per day than they were in the late 1970s, and are 13 pounds heavier on average today than they were then. So much for food industry arguments that exercise alone is the answer to obesity—clearly, dietary changes are needed as well.

Unfortunately, the global sweetener market, dominated by sugar, is huge. And when overweight people eat sugar, on average they store a whopping 35 percent as fat. Low-fat diets often don’t work because other calories (for instance, carbs like fructose) get metabolized into fat, and can be just as unhealthy or even worse. Today, 25 percent of adolescents consume 15 percent or more of their daily calories from fructose, levels that have been shown to prevent overweight kids from becoming healthy. In other words, when children consume sugary beverages the effect is so strong that it alone can stymie even a physician-led multipronged health plan, and interventions such as proper diet, exercise, and counseling may be unable to counteract it. Excess sugar isn’t easy to avoid either and comes not only from soda—almost every processed food, including fruit juice, has unnatural amounts of high-fructose corn syrup or sugar.

Stevia, an all-natural alternative to sugar and fructose, is an increasingly popular alternative. More than 200 times sweeter than sugar, it is safe for diabetics, doesn’t cause tooth decay, and is calorie-free. Right now stevia is grown and extracted primarily in China. The current worldwide supply of stevia is still relatively small, a fraction of what is estimated to be required to meet surging US and global demand in the future.

Based in Yuba City, California, a small agricultural biotechnology company called Stevia First has an ambitious goal: creating a first-of-its-kind stevia enterprise in North America, drawing on the expertise of US researchers and growers in California’s Central Valley.

The company is also planning to launch a superior tabletop sweetener this year called SF Natural, which will include prebiotic fiber to aid digestion and prevent overindulgence. Besides consumers, Stevia First’s target audience includes multinational food and beverage companies that foresee the future and want better-tasting, healthier sugar-free products. 

By enabling healthier products that are built for the mass market, Stevia First aims to play a role in addressing the problem of childhood and adult obesity.

For more information, please visit www.steviafirst.com.