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WW, formerly known as WeightWatchers, launched a diet and nutrition app marketed at children and adolescents this week and have faced immense backlash since.

Kurbo by WW is a free programme that claims to help eight-year-olds to 17-year-olds "build healthy habits", and lose weight through personalised coaching and food tracking.

The app's "traffic light" diet approach categorises foods as red, yellow and green (red being the most process, sugar-filled, yellow being lean protein and pasta and green being fruit and veg).

Kurbo by WW was developed at Stanford University, and WW have defended their programme by stating the app is backed by safe scientific studies. 

CEO of WW, Mindy Grossman, said; "To change the health trajectory of the world, we have a tremendous opportunity, but also a responsibility, to help kids, teens and families adopt healthy habits."

Many critics of the app insist that encouraging kids and teenagers to diet can perpetuate an unhealthy and dangerous mindset.

Fatphobic cultural messaging around dieting has led to a massive issue surrounding eating disorders and mental health among youth.

In an article published in Adolescent Health, Medicine and Therapeutics in 2015, researchers found that because adolescence is such an important time for body image development, 12-to-18-year-olds with a negative perception of their body or weight are more likely to develop eating disorders or dysfunctional exercise habits.

Of course, obesity can be linked to numerous health concerns but disordered eating and mental health conditions among adolescent is reportedly more likely to pose a dangerous risk than paediatric obesity.

35-to-37 percent of adolescent girls in the US alone report using unhealthy weight loss measures, according to the National Eating Disorder Association. These methods include fasting, smoking, taking laxatives and 'skinny teas', skipping meals and even vomiting.

One-in-three adolescents in the UK alone reported experiencing mental health issues, according to a troubling survey by the charity Action for Children. 

More than 12 percent of adolescents in the US are affected by depression every year. 

Many people on social media were furious about the Kurbo by WW app. Jameela Jamil, an activist and actress who runs the iWeigh campaign for body positivity, tweeted her disgust at the news.

“Are we kidding? Breeding obsession with weight and calories and food at the age of…8?" she wrote. "I was 11 when my obsession started, due to being put on a diet for being the heaviest girl in the class. I became afraid of food. It ruined my teens and twenties.”

Petitions have already been created against the app, with the hashtag #LoveNotDiets trending to urge parents to use love rather than diets to help their nutritional habits.

Childhood obesity is still an incredibly serious public health challenge of the 21st century, and the app attempts to reduce a child's sugar intake. There is nothing wrong with promoting healthy foods and exercising for physical and mental health benefits. 

However, many parents feel that instilling a diet-centered mindset among young people who are already vulnerable could be a dangerous mistake. Targeting the mental health crisis could be a more productive way forward.

Feature image: Instagram/@coachdavidflowers

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Cereal is one of our ultimate meals and there's so much choice to be had.

To be honest, we are lazy AF, so pouring a bowl of cereal is perfectly acceptable as dinner.  

But could our addiction to cereal be more about the sugar content, rather than the convenience? 

An experiment conducted by Behind the Label revealed that we aren't actually pouring ourselves the 30g serving of cereal like we are suppose to.

In fact, we are doubling or tripling our portion sizes without even realising. – So put down the cereal box and take note.

The study asked participants to pour their regular breakfast bowl of cereal into either a small (standard soup) sized bowl or a larger dinner bowl.

And the results are pretty shocking. 

The average portion of sweetened diet cereal was three times (93g) the recommended portion size, which meant bowl came in at 351 calories and a staggering 14g of sugar.

To put that into human terms, that's more sugar than a glazed doughnut, which contains 12.6g of the sweet stuff.

The standard Crunchy Cornflakes poured was double the guided portion size (78g), but the kicker came with the sugar content.

Hold onto your spoons as it came in at 27.46g of sugar, which adds up to two and half glazed doughnuts worth of sugar.  

Granola isn't weighing up so fabulously either, participants helped themselves to portions almost double to what we are suppose to be having, which means they wolfed down 389 calories and 21.84g of sugar. 

And finally, a Muesil brand was the best of a bad bunch with people having a double helping which equates to four grams of the white stuff and 308 calories.

The eye-opening results shows that we are overindulging in cereals and the labels aren't much to go by.

As we tuck into a bowl, we think we are being good and keeping it within a certain amount of calories, when we are actually blowing our wonderful intentions out of the water.

So put down the spoon, put the away the milk and go buy a weighing scales, if you really want accuracy.

Or alternatively, just be mindful that you're consuming more than you think and adjust accordingly.

Even though the results are shocking, our love of cereal wil be a hard one to break up with. 

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You might think you're making the healthy choice by choosing a piping hot coffee over a chocolate digestive for you mid-morning pick-me-up, but let's face it, more often than not you'll end up reaching for both anyway.

Well, you're not alone, in fact, a new study claims there's actually a scientific reason why our bodies crave sugar after a few sips of a tall Americano.

It seems that caffeine could alter our perceived sense of sweetness, meaning that our sugar craving are heightened after a cup of coffee.

The study, published in the Journal of Food Science, divided participants into two groups. One set were drank caffeinated coffee while the other set drank decaf, but neither group knew which was which.

Both groups were then asked to add sugar to their drinks and rate the sweetness.

The results showed that the group who drank caffeinated coffee rated their drink as less sweet than those who drank decaf.

What's more, both groups of participants reported a boost in mental alertness, though this is probably down to the placebo effect.

Researchers believe that caffeine works to mask our tastebuds somewhat, leading us to crave more sugar in order to be completely satisfied.

So, if you're thinking about cutting your sugar intake, you may want to consider dropping that coffee habit too.

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If you're baby faced and have a penchant for sipping on energy drinks, you may want to start bringing your I.D to Aldi. 

The bargain retailer has announced that it will sop selling energy drinks to people aged under 16. 

'We are introducing this age restriction in response to growing concern about the consumption of energy drinks among young people,' Finbar McCarthy, Group Buying Director at Aldi Ireland told Breaking News.

The changes will come into place from March 1. 

The decision comes after health campaigners dubbed energy drinks as completely inappropriate fro children thanks to their high sugar and high caffeine content. 

One study, carried out by Action on Sugar, found that many energy drinks had more than the RDA of sugar in one beverage. 

'Sugars are an unnecessary and unhealthy source of calories, and health experts are becoming ever more concerned about the issues associated directly with excessive sugars consumption,' reads a statement on the Action on Sugar homepage. 

'The incidence of obesity and type 2 diabetes, along with the sometimes serious consequences of those diseases, is rapidly increasing.'

'There is a direct link between consumption of sugars and dental caries as well as a possible link between consuming excess sugars and high cholesterol, high blood pressure, some cancers and non-alcoholic liver disease.'

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Who would have ever thought that getting 40 extra winks could make you slimmer?

A new study from a research team at King's College London has found that sleeping more cuts down on sugar cravings.

Losing weight and sleeping in? This is a diet plan that sounds right up our alley, if you're into weight watching.

In the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition-published study, the researchers examined what happened when they extended the amount of time people slept each night.

They found that when people slept longer, they ate about 10 grams less sugar each day than average levels of sugar intake. Participants who slept longer also reduced their carbohydrate consumption.

'The fact that extending sleep led to a reduction in intake of free sugars, by which we mean the sugars that are added to foods by manufacturers or in cooking at home as well as sugars in honey, syrups, and fruit juice, suggests that a simple change in lifestyle may really help people to consume healthier diets,' principal investigator Dr. Wendy Hall noted.

In the study, 21 participants had sleep consultations in order to extend their visit to the land of nod by 90 minutes each night.

These participants were all people who previously slept less than seven hours a night, the recommended minimum time adults should sleep.

The team also studied 21 other adults who also were getting less than seven hours' sleep as a control group.

The participants who received sleep consultations were advised to avoid caffeine before going to bed, start a relaxing night time routine and not go to bed feeling too full or hungry. They were also given a specific bedtime.

Their sleep patterns and diets were monitored for a week after, and the results were impressive.

 

86 percent of the people in the sleep consultation group increased their amount of time in bed, and half increased their actual time spent asleep, from 52 to almost 90 minutes.

Those in the other group did not extend their time sleeping significantly.

However, it is thought that the extended sleep experienced by the group who received sleep advice may not have been of the best quality.

The team suggested that any new sleep routine will take some time to get used to.

'Sleep duration and quality is an area of increasing public health concern and has been linked as a risk factor for various conditions.'

'We have shown that sleep habits can be changed with relative ease in healthy adults using a personalised approach,' lead researcher Haya Al Khatib, from the Department of Nutritional Sciences, stated.

'Our results also suggest that increasing time in bed for an hour or so longer may lead to healthier food choices. This further strengthens the link between short sleep and poorer quality diets that has already been observed by previous studies.'

He continued that they hope to further examine nutrient intake and sleep patterns, especially in longer-term studies and populations that are at a higher risk of obesity or cardiovascular problems.

As if we needed an excuse to stay in bed longer…

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If you've ever found yourself with a bad case of brain fog after milling into a share-size bar of chocolate, you're not alone.

A new study has found that certain types of sugars can seriously decrease our cognitive performance, meaning that a 3pm trip to the biscuit cupboard is probably the worst way to get over the afternoon slump.

Researchers at the University of Otago in New Zealand took 49 participants and tested how sugars affected their ability to perform cognitive tasks.

For the purpose of the study, the three most common dietary sugars, glucose, fructose and sucrose, were tested against a placebo sweetener, sucralose.

After consuming the sugars, subjects were asked to complete simple response time, arithmetic and Stroop interference tests.

Results showed that those who ingested glucose and sucrose performed worse in the tasks when compared to those who ingested fructose and sucralose.

Speaking to PsyPost, Mei Peng, one of the study's authors said: “I am fascinated by how our senses influence our behaviour and affect our everyday lives.”

“In particular, how sugar consumption might change the way our brains work.”

“Our study suggests that the ‘sugar coma’ – with regards to glucose – is indeed a real phenomenon, where levels of attention seem to decline after consumption of glucose-containing sugar.”

So, the next you're in need of a little pick-up-me, try skipping the sweet stuff.

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At this stage, most of us are aware of the adverse effects excess sugar consumption can have on our health, and while we may have great intentions to cut back, we always end up coming back for more.

So, what is it that makes the habit so damn hard to kick?

Well, according to researchers, sugar can be as addictive as cocaine, and they even suggest the sweet stuff should be considered a 'gateway drug'.

A recent study, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, has shown that the consumption of added sugars can produce drug-like effects such as “bingeing, craving, tolerance, and withdrawal.”

The study's authors wrote: “Consuming sugar produces effects similar to that of cocaine, altering mood, possibly through its ability to induce reward and pleasure, leading to the seeking out of sugar.”

However, while these results might seem alarming to the sweet-lovers among us, other scientists have dismissed the research as simply “absurd.”

According to Indy100.com, Tom Sanders, emeritus professor of nutrition and dietetics at King’s College London, told The Guardian:

“While it is true that a liking for sweet things can be habit-forming it is not addictive like opiates or cocaine. Individuals do not get withdrawal symptoms when they cut sugar intake.”

So basically, while we could all benefit from having less of the sweet stuff in our lives, it doesn't look like we'll be checking ourselves into sugar rehabilitation programs any time soon.

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So, as most of us know by now, sugar is pretty much the food devil and we could all benefit from having less of the sweet stuff in our lives.

Studies show that excessive sugar consumption can increase the risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease as well as wreak havoc on our pearly whites

However, according to physician, Dr Drew Ramsay, sugar could actually be hugely beneficial for our brain health.

He argues that the molecule is largely 'misunderstood' and even went as far to describe it as a 'miracle.'

“Sugar is vital for your brain health—which is the biggest guzzler of the sweet stuff in your body, FYI,” Dr Ramsay explained.

“Your greatest assets: grit, gifts, creativity…all run on it.”

He explains that the brain requires over 400 calories of glucose per day – though it's up to us to decide where we get it from.

See, not all sugar is created equal, and while our bodies can do little with the type found in processed foods, Dr Ramsay recommends getting your fix from natural sources such as fresh fruit and honey.

What's more, consuming natural sugars and carbohydrates can actually make us happier – (which goes a long way toward explaining our love of Nutella on toast).

While it may not have the greatest reputation in the world of health and wellness, it seems that sugar may not deserve all the bad press. 

“There’s a danger to your health -in particular to your brain health – by blanketing sugar as bad for you.”

So, the next time you treat yourself to a chocolate covered biscuit (or two) with your tea, you won't have to feel too bad about it.

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OK, so arguably we still have another few weeks of eating and drinking with abandon before having to consider New Year detoxes and stabs at 'clean' diets. 

However, there is also no doubt that sugar is by now a year-round issue. 

Indeed, during 2016 the backlash against it really picked up pace – so much so that family-friendly and health-conscious brands are scrambling to reduce the sugar content in their produce.

From simply cutting down the amount to finding new innovative processes, manufacturers are taking the matter seriously.

Just recently, and partially in response to the Irish government's A Healthy Weight For Ireland plan, Tesco released a statement confirming it has reduced the amount of sugar in all its own-brand soft drinks.

The World Health Organisation advises that our sugar intake should not exceed 5 percent of our total daily calories, including the sugar “hidden” in the foods we eat.

This represents about five to six teaspoons daily. Given that the average Irish person consumes an astonishing 24 teaspoons every single day, there is still a lot to be done to reach the WHO recommendations.

Tesco isn’t the only brand trying to cut down the amount of sugar they use in their food. Between 2000 and 2013, Nestlé reduced the amount of sugar in its products by a third, especially in its range of children’s food.

Recently, the food giant also announced that its in-house scientists had found a method to cut sugar in their chocolate by as much as 40 percent. The exact process, which is being kept a secret, supposedly alters the structure of sugar, making it taste sweeter in smaller amounts; a reduced-sugar chocolate could hit the shelves as early as 2018.

“We want people to get used to a different taste, a taste that would be more natural,” Stefan Catsicas of Nestle explained in an interview with Bloomberg. “We really want to be the drivers of the solution.”

And in the UK, Lucozade, Orangina, and Ribena will all also reduce their sugar content reduced by half in order to avoid forthcoming tax penalties.

According to DailyMail.com, coffee chains Costa, Starbucks, and Caffe Nero are also trying to cut the sugar from their festive drinks, which contain up to 80g of sugar per cup.

In Ireland, we have another year or so before the arrival of the so-called sugar tax: during the Budget 2017 announcement in October, Finance Minister Michael Noonan confirmed that a tax a sugary drinks will be imposed from the spring of 2018 – in line with similar legislation in the UK.

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With Christmas FM back on the radio and the Coca-Cola ad returned to TV, the festive season is officially under way.

But while many dread this time of year for the effects it can have on one’s waistline, an abundance of chocolate, pudding and wine may well be the least of our worries.

As part of a growing annual tradition, major coffee chains like Starbucks, Costa Coffee and Caffè Nero have updated their menus to include a range of delicious but sugar laden holiday beverages.

In nutritional terms, the most offensive of these drinks contains almost 300 calories and over 50g of sugar – that’s 15 percent of the average woman’s daily calorie allowance and twice her recommended intake of the sweet stuff.

Here’s what to look out for in Starbucks, Costa and Caffè Nero this Christmas:

Starbucks: 

 

Giving #RedCup Traveler love, with a matching fingerless glove! To see all the Red Cup Travelers, tap the link in our bio.

A photo posted by Starbucks Coffee  (@starbucks) on

Fudge Hot Chocolate (tall): 287kcal, 31.1g sugar, 11.9g fat.

Toffee Nut Latte (tall): 268kcal, 30g sugar, 11.1g fat.

Eggnog Latte (tall): 248kcal, 32.1g sugar, 10.7g fat.

Gingerbread Latte (tall): 265kcal, 29.3g sugar, 10.7g fat.

 

Caffè Nero:

 

Your only destination: #TheFestiveCaffe

A photo posted by @caffenero on

Tiramisu Hot Chocolate (regular): 291kcal, 50.9g sugar, 5.1g fat.

Tiramisu Latte (regular): 143kcal, 22.4g sugar, 2.8g fat.

 

Costa Coffee:

 

Time for a Christmas pit stop? You can’t go wrong with an Amaretti Latte.

A photo posted by costacoffee (@costacoffee) on

Mint Hot Chocolate (primo): 273kcal, 31g sugar, 10.2g fat.

Black Forest Hot Chocolate (primo): 247kcal, 25.3g sugar, 25.3g fat.

Orange Hot Chocolate (primo): 241kcal, 25.3g sugar, 10g fat. 

Toasted Marshmallow Hot Chocolate (primo): 224kcal, 19.9g sugar, 10g fat.

Honeycomb Latte (primo): 217kcal, 23.4g sugar, 9.9g fat.

Gingerbread Latte (primo): 169kcal, 11.6g sugar, 9.3g fat.

Lindt Hot Chocolate (one size): 163kcal, 16g sugar, 6.3g fat.

Amaretti Latte (primo): 160kcal, 12.1g sugar, 8.9g fat.

Salted Caramel Cappuccino (primo): 64kcal, 8.8g sugar, 0.8g fat.  

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Anyone with a sweet tooth knows there’s nothing quite like a good McFlurry, but one of the famous ice-cream’s classic flavours could soon be no more.

According to Reuters, the M&M McFlurry could soon become a thing of the past because the makers of M&Ms, Mars – yes, that’s the same Mars who brought us the Mars bar – thinks the dessert contains too much sugar.

Apparently Mars is worried because a number of desserts which feature its products contain a person’s full daily sugar allowance in just one serving.

Among those desserts is the M&M McFlurry which has a whopping 89g of sugar per 340g serving – that’s 1g short of all the sugar a woman is allowed in a day.

At this stage the extinction of the M&M flavour is just an idea so there's no need to panic.

But even if it the move is given the go ahead, we're sure there'll still be plenty of ways to get your sugar fix.

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Caroline Flack is looking super hot at the moment, and it's all down to only banning one thing from her diet; sugar.

The presenter has been on a major health kick in recent weeks and admitted on Instagram she's feeling "the best I've felt" in a while.

The 36-year-old explained on a selfie post that she's on a sugar detox and still has a few weeks until it's all over.

"HOT YOGA VIBES," she captioned the snap. "Week 4 no sugar detox. Feel the best I've felt since well… Birth… 7 weeks to go."

Caroline often shares her health and fitness goals on social media and is never shy about hitting out at haters.

We can't wait to see the outcome after seven weeks. 

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