Could Artificial Sweeteners Raise Your Odds for Obesity?

Could Artificial Sweeteners Raise Your Odds for Obesity?

"We found that data from clinical trials do not clearly support the intended benefits of artificial sweeteners for weight management", said study author Dr. Ryan Zarychanski in a statement, who warned that relatively few patients have been part of artificial sweeteners' clinical trials despite their widespread use.

Consumption of artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame, sucralose and stevia, is widespread and increasing.

Consumers may want to think twice about relying on artificial sweeteners, says a Manitoba researcher who found no evidence the sweeteners help with weight loss and some potential health harm beyond the waistline.

Scientists from the University of Manitoba looked over 37 existing studies tracking more than 400,000 people for an average of 10 years to work out just how good artificial sweeteners are for you, AAP reports.

Seven of these studies were randomized controlled trials, considered to be the gold standard in clinical research, which included 1003 people followed for 6 months on average.

Artificial sweeteners increase the risk of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease, research suggests.

"Caution is warranted until the long-term health effects of artificial sweeteners are fully characterized", said lead author Dr. Meghan Azad, whose team at the Children's Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba is also now looking into how consuming artificial sweeteners while pregnant may influence weight gain, metabolism and gut bacteria in children.

What's more, studies on those consuming artificial sweeteners routinely suggest the intake may be associated with cardiovascular disease events such as heart attacks and strokes, Type 2 diabetes and hypertension.

The neurologists at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, conducted a series of studies to establish the impact on health of artificial sweeteners.

Since then artificial sweetener use has increased greatly in many other foods.

It's been said time and time again: dieters turn to diet soda or other sugar-free products but end up compensating for zero-calorie drinks by eating more. Artificial sweeteners also might sharpen the person's sweet tooth, making them more likely to indulge in sugary foods.

"More research is definitely needed", says Azad. That's even after scientists adjusted for other factors, including smoking and exercise.

Previous research explored an association among artificial sweeteners, obesity, and diabetes.

Artificial sweeteners are substitutes for sugar that provides a sweet taste like that of sugar while containing significantly less food energy.

Another possibility, Azad said, is that we compensate and think that drinking a diet pop permits us to enjoy pizza and cake later.

The Calorie Control Council, an association representing the low- and reduced-calorie food and beverage industry, took issue with the study's design and said that "experimental studies have not confirmed these findings", in a statement provided to TIME.