Published: Mon, July 17, 2017
Medicine | By Megan Pierce

Artificial Sweeteners Linked To Weight Gain and Other Health Woes Yet Again

Artificial Sweeteners Linked To Weight Gain and Other Health Woes Yet Again

Instead, observational studies that looked at consumption over time suggested that people who regularly consumed them-by drinking one or more artificially-sweetened beverage a day-had a higher risk for health issues like weight gain, obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

It turned out that many diet foods and drinks containing sugar substitutes, on the contrary, provoke weight gain, not loss. Diabetics and those who strictly watched calories for the goal of weight management/loss have been the targeted lot.

"Over 40 per cent of adults are reporting using artificial sweeteners on a regular basis", said Azad.

"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 most important of the numerous limitations of the studies was the fact that these randomized trials, such as the ones done in these studies, are short term usually and do not include as mean people to be able to confidently say that the sweeteners used are actually causing them harm or are being beneficial in any way.

The team found the clinical trials did not show a clear benefit or a consistent effect on weight loss, despite often being promoted for this reason.

Consumption of artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame, sucralose and the more recently popular stevia is on the increase, however evidence on their potential health effects of these sweeteners has so far been conflicting. The results were published Monday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. People may also believe that because they haven't consumed calories, they have license to splurge elsewhere.

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. She offered this advice: "I'm going to say that you should drink water". 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. The sweeteners could alter the way that gut microbes function in the digestion of food, or possibly change the body's metabolism over time by sending repeated false signals that something sweet has been ingested. Some researchers speculate that the sweeteners interfere with a person's microbiome, a collection of gut bacteria crucial for the absorption of nutrients.

"Obesity is a major public health challenge that contributes to type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease", Meghan B. Azad, PhD, from George & Fay Yee Center for Healthcare Innovation, University of Manitoba, Canada, and colleagues wrote. These days aspartame and sucralose aren't just in diet sodas and chewing gum but English muffins and toothpaste as well.

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