Many believe that substituting artificial sweeteners for the real thing will help them to lose weight without sacrificing taste. One of the main sets of consumers that spring for artificial sweeteners are actually doing so for medical reasons – those with type 2 diabetes find that artificial sweeteners allow them to better maintain their health. Recent research suggests that using artificial sweeteners may actually promote diabetes and obesity, making the sweeteners a potentially dangerous choice for diabetics as well as for those trying to lose weight. These findings have come as a large shock to most people that have grown accustom to using sweeteners on a daily basis in things like coffee, yogurt, or diet sodas.
The findings were published in the scientific journal Nature, submitted by Eran Elinav and his team of researchers from the Department of Immunology at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel. Elinav and his team designed a study that allowed them to observe the effects of artificial sweeteners vs. regular sugar on the metabolism of mice over an 11-week period. They fed one group of mice drinking water filled with the various types of artificial sweeteners in diet products found on grocery store shelves throughout the United States (either saccharin, aspartame, or sucralose along with glucose). The other group of mice was fed either regular water or sugar water. While the group of mice given regular or sugar water did not develop any metabolic issues at the end of the study, the group of mice given the water with artificial sweeteners and glucose developed a glucose intolerance with increased blood sugar levels.
Once the research team observed the effects of artificial sweeteners on mice in the lab, they decided to inspect the effects of artificial sweeteners on humans. They then examined data taken from a long-term clinical study observing almost 400 people without diabetes. Their conclusions included a few frightening associations-that of artificial sweetener consumption and increases in weight, glycosylated hemoglobin levels, and fasting blood glucose levels. The researchers believe that the widespread increase in artificial sweetener consumption is directly related to the relatively recent obesity and diabetes epidemics.
It is important to remember that correlation does not equal causation, and more research is needed in order to further the above findings. Util then, it seems to be up to consumers to decide whether or not they should cut down on their artificial sweetener intake.
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