My husband has long mocked the organic cookie syndrome. I, personally, have fallen for it over and over. Surely because they're organic, I figure, they're healthier. Somehow in my little mind I decide they won't make me fat, rot my teeth, or whatever other evil cookies are rumored to perpetrate. But truth is, they're organic, which does make them better in some ways, but not miraculously low-fat or healthy or whatever I try to tell myself.
And for the formula users among us, I imagine the choice to buy organic is similarly frought - and significantly more expensive. I wasn't all that surprised to read about the super-sweet organic formula by Similac, the 'only major brand of organic formula that is sweetened with cane sugar, or sucrose, which is much sweeter than sugars used in other formulas.' The NYT reported that no health problems in babies have been associated with Similac Organic to date, but that some doctors are concerned nonetheless:
But to pediatricians, there are risks in giving babies cane sugar: Sucrose can harm tooth enamel faster than other sugars; once babies get used to its sweeter taste, they might resist less sweet formulas or solid foods; and some studies suggest that they might overeat, leading to rapid weight gain in the first year, which is often a statistical predictor of childhood obesity.
Not surprisingly, the manufacturer (Similac) isn't so concerned. They say:
...sucrose had been approved by the Food and Drug Administration and was considered “safe and well established.” [and] that Similac Organic had no more sweetener than other formulas and that prolonged contact with any kind of sugar could cause tooth decay.
We're thinking that the U.S. FDA is (sadly) not the best judge of all this. And once again, the E.U. has taken a stand, phasing out the use of cane sugar in formula by 2009. The reason? Its Scientific Committee on Food found that 'sucrose provided no particular nutritional advantages, could, in rare cases, bring about a fatal metabolic disorder, and might lead to overfeeding.' If there's no nutrition reason to use sucrose, why oh why are they using it? This is infant food, people, really. Yes it's supposed to be sweet like breastmilk, but can we aim for the most nutritious sweetener please? What do you think, mamas, should formula contain cane sugar - or not?