New studies revealed that artificial sweeteners are influencing weight gain although they look like harmless and safe way to relish in sweet food.
Canadian Medical Association Journal published a report which said that 37 studies on artificial sweeteners were analyzed by researchers. Analyzes were conducted to check if artificial sweeteners help in weight management. These studies covered more than 400,000 people, and followed them for 10 years. Seven of the studies were randomized controlled trials.
In spite of belief that they help in wight loss, studies showed that in cases where artificial sweeteners were regularly consumed, people had higher risk of having obesity, weight gain, hearth diseases and diabetes.
Study author Meghan Azad said, “I think there’s an assumption that when there are zero calories, there is zero harm.” Azad is also an assistant professor in the department of pediatrics and child health at the University of Manitoba in Canada. “This research has made me appreciate that there’s more to it than calories alone.”
“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. “I think we are at a place where we can say that they don’t help.”
Researchers are still not sure if sweeteners are the cause of the diseases. The connection between the diseases and artificial sweeteners is not evidence that they cause them. Other factors also need to be considered, for example the ones who consume more artificial sweeteners often eat more processed food, and that increases the risk of getting obesity.
“More research is definitely needed,” says Azad. “You need a long-term study.”
Certain number of researchers have their own theories to explain the link between hearth problems and artificial sweeteners. Some of them think that sweeteners interfere with a person’s microbiome, a gut bacterias which are very important for the absorption of nutrients. Regular consumption of sugar substitutes could lead to craving for sweeter food more often. Also people may think that not consuming calories gives them right to boast somewhere else. So far, researches do not have definite true answers.
Regarding the studies, the Calorie Control Council said that “experimental studies have not confirmed these findings,” President of th council Robert Rankin said, “Low-calorie sweeteners are a tool to help provide sweet taste without calories to address one aspect of calorie intake.”
“Individualized strategies are critical for successful body weight management and should address not only dietary preferences, but also physical activity, and medical considerations to help each person achieve their health goals, including those related to chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity and hypertension.” he said.
Swithers said the point is that cutting back on any and all sweeteners is probably a good idea. “People need to be reducing their overall intake of sweeteners whether they have calories or not,” says Swithers. “If we are consuming them appropriately it might not matter. If you are using a little bit, it’s probably not a big deal.