Artificial Sweeteners Have Been Linked To Weight Gain

Artificial Sweeteners Have Been Linked To Weight Gain

Artificial Sweeteners Have Been Linked To Weight Gain

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. Among these studies, only 7 were randomized controlled trials (the gold standard in clinical research) and those studies involved 1003 people, who were followed for an average of 6 months.

Another issue with these studies is that they do not accurately represent how people use sweeteners in their real lives, due to the shortness of the studies. These trials also tend to focus on people who are obese and want to lose weight, which is not the case for many people who use low-calorie sweeteners in the general population.

But new Canadian research published Monday suggests that artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame, sucralose and stevia, may be doing more harm than good. "We know a lot of people are consuming them in foods and not realizing it".

It's not yet clear whether artificial sweeteners actually cause harm, however. Yet, a relatively higher risk of weight gain and obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and other health issues was evident in relation with those sweeteners in long term observational studies.

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"Given the widespread and increasing use of artificial sweeteners and the current epidemic of obesity and related diseases, more research is needed to determine the long-term risks and benefits of these products", she said.

He agrees with Azad's call for more research into the matter.

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And contrary to expectation based on the belief cutting out sugar would prevent weight gain, evidence that taking artificial sweeteners reduces weight was mixed. Her own work on animals has shown these sweeteners can alter the composition of gut microbiota, which she says could play a role in long-term changes in metabolism. Regularly eating or drinking sugar substitutes may also cause people to crave sweeter foods more often.

Other hypotheses suggest they promote a preference for sweetness, leading to further consumption of sweet foods and beverages, or may lead people to indulge in other ways. Highlighting just how much sugar is in our favourite fizzy drinks, they named and shamed the sweetest soft drinks and Lucozade was the worst offender. If you choose a no-sugar-added ice cream, for instance, you may eat more of it.

Dr. Shearer, who was not involved in the CMAJ study, says the findings from the Manitoba researchers add to mounting evidence against nonnutritive sweeteners. Researchers wanted to look more broadly at what's going on by doing a large-scale analysis of dozens of studies on low-calorie sweeteners. "People need to be reducing their overall intake of sweeteners whether they have calories or not", says Swithers.

Azad, for her part, doesn't use artificial sweeteners anymore.

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