Many clinical experiments have been conducted in institutions, not unlike in infant feeding, to test the nutritive and tonic effects of honey on children. The Frauenfelder Home, in the Canton of St. Gallen, Switzerland, is famous for its honey and milk cures. Weak and sickly children are brought there from all parts of the world to recuperate and gain health. If any medical man wishes to be convinced of the nutritive value of honey, he should visit this institution. Dr. P. E. Weesen, of the Frauenfelder sanitarium, experimented in feeding patients in three groups: the first group received normal food; the second group, normal food with honey; and the third group, normal food with tonics and medicaments. The group fed with honey far excelled the other two groups, both in looks and in strength. Facta loquntur!
Dr. Paula Emrich also conducted parallel feeding observations with 100 children. At the start the group which was assigned to be given honey, received a teaspoonful of honey in a cup of warm milk. The honey was gradually increased to as much as two tablespoonfuls daily. Those who manifested digestive disturbances were exempted. To be objective and also to avoid errors the selected groups of children were, as much as possible, of similar types as regard to age, size, constitution, living conditions of their families, hemoglobin content of blood, etc. The children of the separated groups were often sisters and brothers, some of them were even twins. The comparative results and the statistics proved that the children who received honey, but were otherwise on the same diet, after six weeks gained less in weight but more in the hemoglobin content of their blood (12%).
That the mineral elements, such as copper, iron and manganese, which honey contains, have important blood-building functions has been proven by Dr. Rolleder's experiments (on 58 children) in an Austrian orphanage. During the school year he gave half the number of boys one tablespoonful of honey in the morning and the same amount in the afternoon; the other half were not given any. The result was that the children who received honey showed an increase in hemoglobin (8 1/2%); the others showed a corresponding loss. It has been demonstrated by experiments that animals will form decidedly less hemoglobin in their blood when fed on sugar than during a similar period of fasting.
Beyond any doubt, a great error in the present feeding methods for children is to permit them to consume sugar-candy instead of natural sweets. Dr. Seale Harris (New Orleans Med. & Surg. Journ. 81, Sept. 1928) remarks: "The sugar-fed child often becomes rachitic, is prone to acquire colitis and other infections. If he survives infancy he becomes the pale, weak, undernourished child, or the fat flabby indolent and self-indulgent adolescent. Sugar-saturated and vitamin-starving America presents a problem. . . . An ounce of prevention in an infant is worth more than the proverbial pound of cure in an adult. Sugar-fed children will not enjoy milk, eggs, fruit and vegetables to provide them with protein, fats, minerals and vitamins, which are needed for their growth."
Dr. Harris thinks that the sugar-saturated American children are confirmed sugar habitués. They cover their breakfast cereals with sugar, spread sugar-syrup over their pancakes, cheap jams over the muffins and often even sweeten their milk. They are served sweet desserts (the sweeter the better) for lunch and dinner. Between meals they devour candy and ice cream, and indulge in all kinds of sweet "soft" drinks. Candies contain 40 to 6o% of some sort of processed sugars. As a result, these children suffer from flatulence, hyperacidity and headaches and become irritable, restless, capricious and undernourished. They are physically underweight or overweight and mentally precocious or retarded; are easily fatigued and unmanageable, suffer from one cold after another. Physicians, instead of conducting the fashionable search for some non-existent endocrine deficiency, should rather be guided by the fruity breath of acetone of these children, which in itself usually reveals the difficult (?) diagnosis. The French Dr. Le Goff contends that about 8o,000 children die in France from the direct effect of industrial sugar. Dr. Le Goff would not permit in his practice the minutest quantity of sugar in the food and drink of infants and children. The results are astounding because almost all the new-born grow up to robust childhood. Many pediatrists recognize the existence of a so-called "sugar-fever."
Dr. W. E. Deeks also has found that sugar-eating children are badly nourished, pasty-looking, irritable, restless, particularly at night, and frequently suffer from incontinence of urine during sleep; they have decayed teeth, are constipated at times, alternating with diarrhea; they are subject to rheumatism, chorea, recur-ring bronchitis and sore throat. In early infancy they are prone to gastro-intestinal disturbances and eczema. Sugar eaters have, as a rule, a very red and irritated tongue, rapidly recurring hunger with a ravenous appetite which is, however, easily and quickly satisfied; a tendency to heartburn and ineffectual belching.
Digestive disturbances in children predominate in the wealthier classes. When these children grow up they become accustomed to sweets and as adults will persevere in their slow suicidal efforts. The sweet-toothed child becomes a toothless adult. Most oral infections, bleeding gums, decayed teeth and pyorrhea are produced by carbohydrate fermentation, or by some additional harmful substances which candies contain. Sugar fermentation, through the formation of lactic acid and the consequent decalcification, is the main cause of tooth decay. The resisting power of teeth to withstand decalcifying agents varies considerably.
Refined sugars possess a decided affinity for lime and they deprive the teeth and bones of this important mineral substance; in consequence the teeth decay and the bones become weak. Can-dies lack minerals, which fact is a drawback because adolescent children require a great amount of minerals for their teeth. An excessive consumption of candy produces anemia which, in itself, is a contributory cause of dental caries. While refined sugars, of which candy is made, do not contain even a trace of calcium or iron, the ash of 100 gm. of honey contains 6.7% of calcium and 1.2% of iron (Von Bunge). Efforts to replace organic minerals with inorganic ones have always proved a failure. Natural or simple sugars like that found in honey, dates, figs, raisins and other fruits will not cause oral defects. This is proven by the teeth of Arabs, Turks and the African negroes. Half an apple, half a banana, one orange, one fig, or two dates contain the equivalent of two level teaspoonfuls of sugar. But civilized man grows his sweet tooth first and only later his . . wisdom tooth.
The truth of the many accusations that sweet drinks and foods, especially candies, are the main source of tooth-decay was conclusively established by the recent Dental Research Expedition of Columbia University which was sent to the remote areas of the Bering Sea. Dr. L. M. Waugh, leader of the party, states that the Eskimos have perfect teeth so long as they abstain from "civilized" diet. "We found natives," Dr. Waugh reports, "with practically perfect teeth, lacking in decay, so long as they lived in their natural state untouched by the white man and ate their native diet which lacks sugar in its refined form. When the natives are subjected to the white man's diet their teeth decay." Dr. Waugh recommends that natural sugar be substituted for refined sugar and for sweets which contain it.
Food excesses, as a rule, imply fares of which we are fond. Sugar products are pleasing and palatable besides being abundant and cheap. The temptations are great and it requires a certain amount of self-control to resist the craving. We cannot expect, however, such virtue in children; only proper education will en-lighten them. Children have to be taught to resort to natural sugars and not to indulge in devitalized, vitamin-free substances. Universal ailments of children such as dyspepsia, eructation, appendicitis, gall bladder, liver and pancreatic infections, furunculosis, eczema, general debility and many other physical and mental complaints, due mainly to excessive use of sugar, could be eliminated. It is a great public health and educational problem. To supply the proper food for children should be our foremost duty. It is like laying a corner-stone for a better generation. Those who have reached or passed middle-age today have already made so many errors in diet, and their inveterate habits are so firmly established, that they are almost hopeless. To spare pregnant and nursing mothers from an unbalanced and deficient diet should be our next aim. We pay attention to the feeding of thoroughbreds; so why not to that of our own race?
Craving for sweets is a source also of other transgressions be-cause often harmful substances are added to sweet foods and beverages. In an Alabama school, for instance, it was established that 6o% of the children indulged in cola drinks which contain, besides sugar, harmful caffein substances.
American children are the greatest candy-eaters in the world.
All one has to do is to observe the traffic around the candy counters in schools or in the neighborhood candy stores. One seldom sees children without the inevitable lollypops or their near or far relatives. Candies decrease the appetites of children and irritate the delicate linings of their stomachs, this irritation in itself interfering with the absorption of food. Parents should know that starches, such as bread and cereals, manufacture sugar in the organism. Fruits and certain vegetables, of course, contain a considerable amount of natural sugars. Candies will establish an excess in sugar consumption with all its dire consequences. The irony of the situation is that in many schools we find the candy counter in one wing of the building and the dental clinic in another.
Statistics based on examination of a large proportion of over twenty million school children in America show that 15 to 25 per cent have diseased tonsils or adenoids; 50 to 75 per cent have defective teeth; and 15 to 25 per cent suffer from malnutrition (Leete, Mother and Child, 2, 358, 1921). Terman (The Hygiene of the School Child, 1914) also found that fourteen million school children in the United States were handicapped by some kind of physical defect. Medical examinations during drafting of our young men for the World War revealed similar results.
Teeth have a great importance in their relationship to other organs of the body. The value of good teeth as a dependable indicator of health was known during the days of slave-trading when two dollars were deducted from the agreed price of a slave for each decayed tooth (Finke, Medical Geography, I. p. 449). Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes once remarked that longevity de-pends not so much on the importance that children should be born to long-lived parents but to parents with good teeth. The Biblical edict that the sins of the fathers shall be visited on their children also refers to teeth.
The "sugar capacity" of children greatly varies. Dr. Ch. G. Kerley, the noted pediatrist, observed in many children serious maladies which could be traced to the indiscriminate use of candy. Among the diseases he found persistent head-colds, otitis, enlarged tonsils, recurrent bronchitis, bronchial asthma, vomiting, rheumatism, chorea, eczema and urticaria. Kerley found in 78 cases:
Recurrent vomiting 8
Asthmatic bronchitis 7
Frequent colds, coryza, tonsilitis 17
Rheumatism and endocarditis 6
Recurrent bronchitis 6
Several cases were conjoined with one or more of the other ailments. Of the group, for instance, there were combinations of:
Eczema, urticaria and rheumatism;
Eczema, urticaria and bronchial asthma;
Eczema and chorea;
Eczema and bronchitis;
Rheumatism and asthmatic bronchitis.
Most of Dr. Kerley's patients improved without medication by simply depriving them of candy. Some of the "sugar susceptibles" were so sensitive to "candy poisoning" that a small piece of candy was sufficient to produce an outbreak. "It would seem," remarks Kerley, "that to some individuals cane-sugar is sufficiently toxic to produce a perversion of functions with symptoms of its own . . . and in others to produce enough change to invite or allow bacterial invasion, as in acute articular rheumatism and endocarditis."
Candy and sweet cakes will produce in children malaise, drowsiness, languor, epigastric heaviness and bilious, green-colored vomiting. Dr. E. H. Bartley reported the case of a girl who vomited two hours after every meal for a year. After inquiry the doctor found that the child had been living almost entirely on cake because her appetite (?) did not crave anything else. The vomiting promptly ceased by withholding the cake. Three weeks later, after eating cake, the child suffered a relapse.
Dr. Bartley reported autopsies on two children who died from excessive indulgence in candy. The result of the autopsies showed an acute and intense inflammation of the gastric mucosa; the candy was not even entirely dissolved and was mixed with the abundant mucus of the stomachs. Some of the gastric contents were ejected by vomiting that preceded death. The coroner's findings were acute inflammation of the stomach and duodenum, caused by excessive eating of candy. Chemical analysis failed to reveal any foreign toxic substances. Candy alone in large quantities is a sufficient irritant. An excessive amount of cane-sugar inhibits the secretion of hydrochloric acid.
Dr. R. Blosser, of Atlanta, Ga., reported the case of a child 8 years old who suffered an attack which was termed delirium tremens, attributed to excessive use of brown sugar. The father, a grocer, allowed him free access to the sugar-barrel, from which the boy indulged between meals. The violent attack lasted for four days and the child had to be "held in bed." After the boy had been forbidden to eat any more sugar, the delirium did not recur. Another proof that sugar contains deleterious substances.
The gastric catarrh of children caused by indulgence in candy has, undoubtedly, a remote effect on the nose, throat and lungs, diffusing the catarrhal condition. In young girls menstrual disturbances and leucorrhea may also supervene. The most harmful effect of candy-orgies is that the victims lose their appetite and as a result exclude highly essential nutriments.
Our schools should show concern and teach more dietetics in-stead of so much theoretical science. It is difficult to depend on parents, considering how most of them . . . feed. With the aid of a little more solicitude on the part of teachers, children could carry the knowledge of proper diet to their homed and educate their parents.
The harm caused by the excess consumption of' candy is not due solely to its sugar content. Cheap candies, to preserve and lend color and flavor, are admixed with sulphates (the hat cleaners also use them), lead, arsenic, benzoate of soda, anilin and other coal-tar dyes which are decidedly toxic. We Americans are past-masters in preserving and adulterating food materials. Years ago several foreign countries forbade the importation of California dried fruits because they had been sulphured. The imputation that we are a nation of 100,000,000 guinea pigs (why disregard the other 30 million worthy fellow-citizens?) must have had some justification and the epithet adduced by substantial evidence.There is a little story about a Christmas party which a charitable lady gave to the working girls of a provincial town. Among the divertisements of the evening, each girl received as a gift a box of chocolates. When the jollity ended and the crowd dispersed, a group of girls who were ready to depart did not take the boxes of candy. The hostess reminded them of their apparent oversight but the girls answered in unison: "No, thank you, we know this candy; we make it."