Artificial Sweeteners and Weight Control

Many people think diet sodas and other foods with artificial sweeteners are actually their weight management friend, the new science is showing, in fact, quite the opposite. So, if you are still a diet soda drinker, please consider the following scientific data released recently (source:

You Actually Gain Weight by Using “Artificial Sweeteners”

A 2010 scientific review published in the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine (YJBM) using several large scale studies found positive correlations between artificial sweetener use and weight gain, which is against the “conventional wisdom” of cutting calories to lose weight. For example:

“The San Antonio Heart Study examined 3,682 adults over a seven- to eight-year period in the 1980s. When matched for initial body mass index (BMI), gender, ethnicity, and diet, drinkers of artificially sweetened beverages consistently had higher BMIs at the follow-up, with dose dependence on the amount of consumption. Average BMI gain was +1.01 kg/m2 for control and 1.78 kg/m2 for people in the third quartile for artificially sweetened beverage consumption.

The American Cancer Society study conducted in early 1980s included 78,694 women who were highly homogenous with regard to age, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and lack of preexisting conditions. At one-year follow-up, 2.7 percent to 7.1 percent more regular artificial sweetener users gained weight compared to non-users matched by initial weight… Saccharin use was also associated with eight-year weight gain in 31,940 women from the Nurses’ Health Study conducted in the 1970s.”

Experiments have found that sweet taste, regardless of its caloric content, enhances your appetite. Aspartame has been found to have the most pronounced effect, but the same applies for other artificial sweeteners, such as acesulfame potassium and saccharin.

The reason why glucose or sucrose (table sugar) tends to lead to lower food consumption compared to non-caloric artificial sweeteners is because the calories contained in natural sweeteners trigger biological responses to keep your overall energy consumption constant. This was again evidenced in a study published last year, which concluded that:

“The results support the hypothesis that consuming non-caloric sweeteners may promote excessive intake and body weight gain by weakening a predictive relationship between sweet taste and the caloric consequences of eating.”

In essence, real sugar allows your body to accurately determine that it has received enough calories, thereby activating satiety signaling. Without the calories, your appetite is activated by the sweet taste, but as your body keeps waiting for the calories to come, sensations of hunger remain.

“Human research must rely on subjective ratings and voluntary dietary control. Rodent models helped elucidate how artificial sweeteners contribute to energy balance. Rats conditioned with saccharin supplement had significantly elevated total energy intake and gained more weight with increased body adiposity compared to controls conditioned with glucose. Saccharin-conditioned rats also failed to curb their chow intake following a sweet pre-meal…

Increasing evidence suggests that artificial sweeteners do not activate the food reward pathways in the same fashion as natural sweeteners… Lastly, artificial sweeteners, precisely because they are sweet, encourage sugar craving and sugar dependence… Unsweetening the world’s diet may be the key to reversing the obesity epidemic,” the YJBM review states.

That last statement is probably the most accurate conclusion there is. Americans in particular are addicted to the flavor sweet, which appears to trigger a complex set of biological systems, pathways, and mechanisms that in the end leads to excess weight gain whether that flavor comes loaded with calories or not.

In short, avoid diet sodas along with any artificial sweeteners and/or flavors for that matter from sabotaging your weight management routine. You are better off staying with their natural counterparts.


Posted by Paul

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