Research published in Canada suggests that diet foods targeted at children may inadvertently lead to overeating and obesity.

Researchers from the University of Alberta carried out tests on young rats which were given low-calorie versions of foods.

The research, published in the journal Obesity showed that the rats were induced to overeat, whether they were lean or obese.
The researchers have suggested that low-calorie versions of usually high-calorie foods disrupt the body’s ability to use taste to regulate calorific intake. 

The problem appeared to be particular to the young. Researchers found that young rats given low-calorie foods began to overeat during their regular meals but older, adolescent rats did not show the same tendency to overeat when given low-calorie substitutes.

“Based on what we’ve learned, it is better for children to eat healthy, well-balanced diets with sufficient calories for their daily activities rather than low-calorie snacks or meals,” said lead researcher Professor David Pierce. “Diet foods are probably not a good idea for growing youngsters.”