Artificial Sweeteners May Not Help With Weight Loss
17 July 2017, 02:54 | Todd Saunders
Artificial Sweeteners In Diet Fizzy Drinks May Be Making You Gain Weight
Consumption of artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame, sucralose and stevia, is widespread and increasing. "I think we are at a place where we can say that they don't help". "Unfortunately, the quality of evidence that would support using sweeteners is not really strong", says Susan Swithers, a professor in the department of psychological studies at Purdue University who has also studied artificial sweeteners (but was not involved in the new study).
What's more, studies on those consuming artificial sweeteners routinely suggest the intake may be associated with cardiovascular disease events such as heart attacks and strokes, Type 2 diabetes and hypertension.
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.
To understand the effect of artificial sweeteners consumed by pregnant women on weight gain, metabolism and gut bacteria of their infants, a team at Children's Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba, under the lead author Dr. Meghan Azad, Assistant Professor, Rady Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Manitoba, is undertaking a new study.
Admittedly, both reviewed studies do have their strengths and weaknesses. Seven of them were randomized trials, covering about 1,000 people, and the rest were observational studies that tracked the health and habits of nearly 406,000 people over time. 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. Observational studies, which are a lot longer in duration can do that much better but the drawback is that they only find associations and not causation.
There are many theories on why artificial sweeteners may not be good for weight loss or health.
The researchers said there was no consistent weight loss seen in people who took artificial sweeteners.
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.
"More research is definitely needed", says Azad.
Another possibility is that our bodies have evolved to metabolize sugars in a way that's triggered not by calories or the sugar molecule but by the perception of sweet taste.
In the meantime, Azad thinks the lack of proven benefit and questions about harm should give pause to people who choose sweeteners because they think they're healthful substitutes for sugar. She offered this advice: "I'm going to say that you should drink water".
It's been said time and time again: dieters turn to diet soda or other sugar-free products but end up compensating for zero-calorie drinks by eating more.
One problems with some of the artificial sweetener research is that it had been funded by industry.
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