Artificial Sweeteners May Not Help With Weight Loss

Amos Gonzales
July 17, 2017

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.

Cut down the use of artificial sweeteners as they may be associated with long-term weight gain and increased risk of obesity, a study has warned. What researchers couldn't observe were the deserved effects of artificial sweeteners, namely weight loss or the absence of metabolic problems.

In an attempt get more solid answers, the research team analysed data from 37 separate studies - 7 clinical trials and 30 cohort studies - which monitored more than 400,000 people in total, for an average period of 10 years.

"Caution is warranted until the long-term health effects of artificial sweeteners are fully characterized", said lead author Dr. Meghan Azad, whose team at the Children's Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba is also now looking into how consuming artificial sweeteners while pregnant may influence weight gain, metabolism and gut bacteria in children.

The importance of these types of reviews is huge as there are so many people around the globe who use these sweeteners, and a massive portion of those people actually consume them once a day. "We know a lot of people are consuming them in foods and not realizing it".

Artificial sweeteners might seem like a low- or no-calorie way to enjoy sweet food and not gain weight.

Thirty of the studies were observational, which have a greater risk of bias because artificial sweetener use is not randomly assigned and people who choose to consume sweeteners may be different from those who don't, in terms of socioeconomic, lifestyles and health-related factors. Some researchers speculate that the sweeteners interfere with a person's microbiome, a collection of gut bacteria crucial for the absorption of nutrients. Seven of the studies were randomized controlled trials, "the gold standard of research", said Azad.

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Azad suggests that consumers who turn to artificial sweeteners on the assumption that they're a healthier choice should to be cautious.

Recent studies into the health impacts of artificial sweeteners have shown up conflicting results. "They're shifting calories to other foods", Azad explained.

Many people use artificial sweeteners.

NIH pediatric endocrinologist Dr. Kristina Rother, who wasn't involved in the study, said it is a strong piece of work that highlights the need for more and better-designed studies on low-calorie sweeteners. She said the studies may have neglected other things that influence weight, such as exercise or overall diet.

The European Food Safety Agency supports claims by artificial sweetener manufacturers that taking them benefits teeth, and can control blood sugar levels.

Another possibility, Azad said, is that we compensate and think that drinking a diet pop permits us to enjoy pizza and cake later.

Not so, says a new study published Monday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

Other reports by BadHub

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