Artificial Sweeteners May Actually Cause Obesity, Heart Disease

Artificial sweeteners are once again under the scanner of health scientists. The use of different sweet substitutes for sugar, such as aspartame, saccharin, sucralose and stevia, by children and adults has soared in recent years. Several studies, mainly conducted on animals, have repeatedly shown the side effects associated with the sugar substitutes used in diet drinks and other foods.

Artificial Sweeteners May Actually Cause Obesity, Heart Disease Research in the past has shown that artificial sweeteners lead to weight gain, higher blood sugar levels, and diabetes by disrupting healthy microbes that live in the gut. Some other studies have claimed that sugar substitutes can help people cut their calorie intake, prevent tooth decay, maintain a healthy weight and protect against diabetes.

A recent Canadian study now suggests that the low-calorie or calorie-free sweeteners, which have long been touted as a safe alternative to sugar, in fact, can cause varied long-term health problems.

The additives stevia, sucralose, and aspartame used in place of sugar to sweeten drinks, foods and desserts, may be associated with an increased risk of obesity, long-term weight gain as well as diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease, found researchers from the University of Manitoba.

The researchers reached their findings after reviewing 37 studies looking at health of 400,000 people for an average of 10 years. Seven of these studies were randomized controlled trials that tracked the medical records of 1,003 people for an average of six months.

The systematic review revealed that the seven trials failed to show a consistent link between artificial sweeteners and weight loss. The longer-term studies actually showed a higher risk of health problems, including obesity, long-term weight gain, higher levels of blood sugar levels, diabetes and heart disease.

“Most people consuming artificial sweeteners do so assuming these products will help them avoid weight gain, diabetes, and heart disease. Yet we are seeing the opposite association from multiple studies,” Meghan Azad, PhD, the lead author of the study and an assistant professor at the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Manitoba.

“Based on all of the research done so far, there’s no clear evidence for a long-term benefit (of using artificial sweeteners). But there is evidence of potential harm from the long-term consumption of artificial sweeteners,” she said.

“We need more evidence from better quality studies to know for sure the cause and effect, but there does seem to be at least a question about the daily consumption of these drinks,” she concluded.

The research was published online in the CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *