Artificial Sweeteners Do Not Help You Lose Weight

Artificial Sweeteners Are Linked To Weight Gain And Diabetes

But new research reveals that artificial sweeteners - such as aspartame, sucralose and stevioside - actually cause long-term weight gain and increase your risk of a slew of health problems such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.

A number of government and health bodies recommend the use of artificial sweeteners as sugar replacements to help cut calories, aid in weight loss and manage diabetes.

A wide-ranging review has found that long term use of the sweeteners - including aspartame, sucralose and stevia - may have negative effects on our metabolism and appetite, as well as our gut bacteria.

The research reviewed 37 studies that followed over 400-thousand people for an average of 10 years. Seven of the studies were randomized controlled trials, "the gold standard of research", said Azad.

"Despite the fact that millions of individuals routinely consume artificial sweeteners, relatively few patients have been included in clinical trials of these products", Ryan Zarychanski, MD, MSc, coauthor from the University of Manitoba, said in a related press release.

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.

"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.

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Finally, your gut microbiome - a collection of hundreds of types of bacteria - is altered by artificial sweeteners.

"Really, the take-home message for this study is we need more research, because there isn't a lot of evidence on the long-term effects", she said.

This is quite the opposite of their intended use, since artificial sweeteners have been developed to combat obesity.

"In 2008, more than 30% of Americans reported daily intake of non-nutritive sweeteners and this proportion is increasing".

According to Dr. Azad, until the characterization of the long-term health effects - both risks and benefits - of artificial sweeteners are completed caution is necessary. Sylvetsky Meni doesn't think having a diet soda here and there is bad. And observational data suggest that the people who regularly consume these sweeteners are also more likely to develop future health problems - though those studies can't say those problems are caused by the sweeteners. They may sharpen a sweet tooth, for example, prompting you to eat more sugary foods, or they may make you feel virtuous but then overcompensate later. That's even after scientists adjusted for other factors, including smoking and exercise.

Read Azad's full findings published Monday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

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