Saturday, 22 July, 2017

Could Artificial Sweeteners Raise Your Odds for Obesity?

Representative pic for artificial sweetener Representative pic for artificial sweetener
Sammy Stanley | 17 July, 2017, 18:55

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. In the study, it was discovered that artificial sweeteners were being absorbed by the bacteria in the gut and changing the makeup of the essential bacterial cultures that live inside the digestive system.

Only seven of these studies were randomised controlled trials (the gold standard in clinical research), involving 1,003 people followed for six months on average. The data from the clinical trials did not support the anticipated benefits of artificial sweeteners for weight management, she added.

Lead author and assistant professor Dr Meghan Azad, added: "Caution is warranted until the long-term health effects of artificial sweeteners are fully characterised".

Her team at the Children's Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba is undertaking a new study to understand how artificial sweetener consumption by pregnant women may influence weight gain, metabolism and gut bacteria in their infants. Their results were published Monday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

"I don't think in dietetics practice we ever figure that switching to sugar substitutes is going to give you a significant weight loss alone", said Wright, a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Importantly, trials of longer duration have shown higher weight loss and maintenance with low calorie sweeteners' use.

Interest in the health effects of nonnutritive sweetners has grown over the years as public consumption of them has increased. This is the only study design in human studies that does rise to the level of demonstrating cause and effect, and in the case of low calorie sweeteners' effect on body weight, evidence from RCTs is clear and consistent pointing to a modest benefit of low calorie sweeteners' use in weight loss and maintenance. Sylvetsky Meni wasn't involved in this study, but was an author of the study on the prevalence of sweetener use. They may trigger overcompensation, they might confuse the body, or they may even alter a person's metabolism.

Azad and Sylvetsky Meni say that much more research needs to be done, including looking specifically at different sweeteners rather than grouping them together.

It's a tough question, Dr. Swithers says, in part because people who report they drink diet pop tend to be heavier and are more likely to have a family history of health problems than those who drink regular pop. The best advice would be to choose your sugar intake wisely and avoid sweet foods when possible, no matter how many calories they may contain.

There's no evidence that artificial sweeteners alter the way the body processes sugar, she noted, and some research has shown that sugar substitutes do not make a person crave candies more. Sylvetsky Meni doesn't think having a diet soda here and there is bad. "We need to know what the artificial sweeteners do".

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