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Learning nutrition lessons from rats
November 8, 2023

By Charlene and Haleigh, East Norriton Bulldog Bulletin | When you think of health, you may not think of rats. But to show that sugary drinks are not good for your health, one East Norriton classroom used rats in an experiment.

Mrs. Strickland, a gifted education teacher, and her students conducted a five-week nutrition experiment with two baby rats named Pancake and Waffle.

Pancake was given milk with her food (grains, fruits, and vegetables) for four weeks and Waffle was given sugar water with her food for four weeks. Then, students switched the drinks for one week.

The goal was to show that too much sugar is not good for you.

The rats were weighed and measured every week by students last fall. Pancake started off weighing 2 ounces and was 6 inches long. Waffle weighed 2.2 ounces and was 8 1⁄4 inches long. In the end, Pancake weighed 4.7 ounces and was 13 inches long, while Waffle weighed 4.9 ounces and was 12 inches long.

During the experiment, Pancake grew faster and had bigger growth spurts than Waffle.

Overall, Pancake seemed healthier and students reported that Pancake’s fur was softer throughout the experiment. Students hypothesized it was due to the milk in Pancake’s diet.

So what does this all mean? Too much added sugar in your diet puts a person at a greater risk for a lot of health problems such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes, according to the American Heart Asso- ciation. Added sugars are sugars that are put into food or drinks, particularly during food processing.

The American Heart Association also says to watch out for sugar in your drinks. “Sugar-sweetened beverages are the biggest source of added sugars in the American Diet,” the heart association says.

Too much sugar can also cause problems in your mouth. School nurse Mrs. Zangara recommended lim-iting sugary drinks because they can cause cavities. As for your body, Mrs. Zangara says that eating too much sugar too fast can make your blood sugar spike and make you not feel well.

School physical education teachers Mr. Stem and Ms. Elias said a healthy alternative to sugary drinks is water. Mr. Stem and Mrs. Elias recommend avoiding soda and instead drink plenty of water every day.

Illustration by Marley, East Norriton Bulldog Bulletin.

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