Artificial sweeteners may be linked to weight gain

Brandon Parsons
July 18, 2017

What seems like an obvious choice to lose weight doesn't look so obvious based on available data.

Yes, it's true, sugar isn't good for us - but scientists recently reviewed more than 11,700 studies and came to the conclusion that artificial sweeteners may not be any better.

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.

The CMAJ study, released Monday, states: "Nonnutritive sweeteners, such as aspartame, sucralose and stevioside, are widely consumed, yet their long-term health impact is uncertain".

Dr Meghan added: "Caution is warranted until the long-term health effects of artificial sweeteners are fully characterised".

"In 2008, more than 30% of Americans reported daily intake of non-nutritive sweeteners and this proportion is increasing". They activate receptors on the tongue that lets the brain know the person is eating or drinking something sweet. "Evidence from randomized controlled trials does not clearly support the intended benefits of nonnutritive sweeteners for weight management", the study found. Therefore, researchers developed this new study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

Admittedly, both reviewed studies do have their strengths and weaknesses.

The study found the benefits and drawbacks of sweeteners were conflicting. Also, the randomized controlled trials were relatively short.

"These sweeteners could have negative effects and there is no strong evidence that they are beneficial". In the RCTs, nonnutritive sweeteners also did not pose any consistent effects on other measures of body composition such as weight and obesity.

Meanwhile the longer observational studies showed a link between consumption of artificial sweeteners and relatively higher risks of weight gain and obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and other health issues. There was a 32 percent higher chance of cardiovascular events for the heaviest versus lightest users.

"People who use artificial sweeteners or diet drinks think that they can eat cake".

But to get your sweet fix you might opt for a "diet" option instead, packed with low-calorie or calorie-free artificial sweeteners. Sylvetsky Meni wasn't involved in this study, but was an author of the study on the prevalence of sweetener use.

The psychological factor from consuming artificial sweeteners could be worse for us than the packet of sugar we were trying to initially avoid. "This research has made me appreciate that there's more to it than calories alone". "They transfer their calories to other foods", said the researcher at Global News. More research is needed to understand the long-term effects.

Human trials concluded that there were no significant differences observed on insulin levels between groups consuming diet drinks and those consuming water. Do the potential risks of sweeteners outweigh the risks of sugar itself?

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