You may want to think twice about consuming artificial sweeteners again, according to a new study that connects them to long-term weight gain, increased obesity risk, and potential health dangers beyond one's waistline. Regularly eating or drinking sugar substitutes may also cause people to crave sweeter foods more often. Diabetics and those who strictly watched calories for the objective of weight management/loss have been the targeted lot.
This is quite the opposite of their intended use, since artificial sweeteners have been developed to combat obesity.
Lead author Assistant Professor Dr Meghan Azad, from the University of Manitoba, said: "In 2008, more than 30 per cent of Americans reported daily intake of non-nutritive sweeteners, and this proportion is increasing".
After looking at two types of scientific research, the authors conclude that there is no solid evidence that sweeteners like aspartame and sucralose help people manage their weight.
To better understand artificial sweeteners' link to negative long-term weight and health, a team from University of Manitoba in Canada conducted a review of 37 studies following more than 400,000 individuals for 10 years on average.
We've all heard the popular theory that if you are using artificial sweeteners instead of sugar you get the benefits of a potential weight loss and sweet taste without the unnecessary calories.
US consumption of artificial sweeteners has increased dramatically over the past 15 years. Across the board in the studies, those who consumed more artificial sweeteners faced a "slight" increased risk of metabolic syndrome, which is a cluster of conditions from excess body fat around the waist, increased blood pressure to abnormal cholesterol.
To determine whether regular consumption of nonnutritive sweeteners is associated with long-term adverse cardiometabolic effects, Azad and colleagues searched several databases for randomized controlled trials (RCTs) that assessed interventions for nonnutritive sweeteners and cohort studies that evaluated the consumption of such sweeteners among adults and adolescents.
They also may not reflect how people behave in the real world.
The available evidence suggests that sweeteners may help with weight loss if they are carefully used as a one-to-one replacement for sugar-sweetened drinks or foods as part of a structured weight-loss program, says Allison Sylvetsky Meni, an assistant professor in the department of exercise and nutrition sciences at George Washington University's Milken Institute School of Public Health.
Finally, your gut microbiome - a collection of hundreds of types of bacteria - is altered by artificial sweeteners. "People need to be reducing their overall intake of sweeteners whether they have calories or not", says Swithers. "It really affects everybody", she said. Sylvetsky Meni doesn't think having a diet soda here and there is bad.