You read it right. Canadian researchers say their latest look at ‘non-nutritive’ artificial sweeteners gave them a bit of a shock. It seems the evidence indicates you can actually gain weight from ‘chronic’ use of artificial sweeteners – and it’s not because they, themselves pack on the pounds.
Researchers at the University of Manitoba’s George and Fay Yee Centre for Healthcare Innovation performed what they call a review study, looking at 37 research programs, conducted over a decade or more, involving more than 400,000 people.They wanted to see whether artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, sucralose and stevia were actually helping people control their weight or lose weight, something non-nutritive sweeteners are genenrally recommended for.
The results were clear…
Immediate effects of consuming artificial sweeteners included negative effects on metabolism, gut bacteria, and appetite.
The study concluded, in summation, that, “consumption of non-nutritive sweeteners is associated with higher risks of obesity, hypertension, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, stroke and cardiovascular disease events.”
“I think most people consuming artificial sweeteners assume these products will help them avoid weight gain, diabetes, and heart disease — and yet we are seeing the opposite association from multiple studies,” the study’s lead author, Meghan B. Azad, told reporters.
But how can this be?
Doctors and nutritionists will tell you, calmly and patiently, that the only way to control or lose weight is to cut your calorie intake and exercise more – i.e.- burn more calories. But, then, how does regular use of artificial sweetener make you fat?
Susan Swithers, in her 2013 study, speculates that the body may be trucked into weight-gaining behaviour by artificial sweeteners.
“Non-nutritive sweeteners may interfere with our ability to predict whether things that taste sweet actually have calories or not,” Swithers told reporters. “This means that, after using non-nutritive sweeteners, normal reactions to real sugar could be affected, making it harder to control our blood sugar or how much we’re eating.”
There’s more research still to be done…
And we’re all waiting to hear what it finds. But I can tell you from personal experience, regular consumption of non-nutritive sweeteners (on my doctor’s advice) has not helped me control or reduce my weight. I’m going to see that cutting artificial sweeteners can do for me.
And I’ll be lobbying my dear sister to rethink her customary breakfast-time Diet Ginger Ale…
~ Maggie J.