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Mom Keeps Kid Out of Cookie Jar, Forever

Should you raise a sugar-free baby? One mother makes a case for this radical move.

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Photo: Josh Roulston

Should you raise a sugar-free baby? Gilt Taste’s Melinda Wenner Moyer makes the scientific case for this radical move in a story about her campaign to keep her baby away from cake, candy, cookies and even sweetened applesauce for his first two years of life.

If, by limiting sweets now, I can shape Dean’s taste preferences so that he ultimately eats less sugar later on—so that he just doesn’t want to eat ice cream by the bucketload like his mother does—I believe he will be less likely to become obese and develop heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

Moyer acknowledges that we’re wired to crave sugar, but that some studies have indicated that babies – even before they’re born – and sugar are not a great combination. Women who over- or under-eat  are more likely to raise children who go on to become obese later in life, for example. And there’s evidence that children who are fed more sugar go on to prefer sweeter foods, too.

Not everyone agrees that Moyer’s decision to raise a sugar-free baby will make a difference in his preferences later in life, but no one disputes the many ill effects sugar can have on a person’s health.

If I had the choice between enjoying a bag of M&Ms every day but suffering a heart attack when I was 60, or skipping the treats and staying healthy, I’d probably grudgingly stop buying the candy. But what if giving up M&Ms weren’t a big sacrifice at all, because I didn’t care much for candy anyway? It’s hard for me to even imagine that alternate universe. How could it be possible? But I try. And I hope in 20 years that my son can tell me all about it.

As Moyer acknowledges, only time will tell if the experiment was a success, or if Dean winds up just another kid chasing after the ice cream truck.

More from Smithsonian.com:

A Field Guide to Sugars

Should Sugar be a Controlled Substance? 

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