Dangers of artificial sweeteners confirmed

Fat man

Fat man

But researchers have now linked them to weight gain and increased risk of diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. But the links they find between habits and health issues are associations, not direct evidence of cause and effect.

"Overall, the evidence does not support the intended objective of weight loss and suggests that there might be adverse effects in the long term", Meghan Azad, an author of the review and assistant professor at the University of Manitoba, told LiveScience.

The health effects of artificial sweeteners are important to study, because so many people use them.

Dr. Meghan Azad and a team of researchers of the University of Manitoba conducted a meta-review of 37 previously published studies that looked at the diet habits of more than 400,000 people.

Turns out, Azad picked up on patterns.

Over 40% of Americans consumer artificial sweeteners every single day in the hope that the zero calorie sweeteners will help them lead a healthier lifestyle.

Diabetes cropped up in most of the studies, too.

Many people use artificial sweeteners.

There's a growing body of literature on the potential risks of artificial sweeteners in zero calories drinks, to low-calorie sweets and even in pasta sauces and other processed fare.

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Note for editors: For more information on low calorie sweeteners, please visit http://www.sweeteners.org or contact the ISA Secretariat by clicking here. It could be by justifying a second helping of dinner because they saved the 165 calories they would have got from a can of Coke.

Numerous clinical trials this study drew on didn't align closely with the way people consume such sweeteners in the real world - for instance, trials generally give subjects diet soda or sweetener capsules, while ignoring other sources, such as food.

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

Other studies have pointed to a biological mechanism - our bodies respond to the taste of sugar, but are confused because there are no calories to go along with it.

"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.

"There's no clear benefit and there's potential for harm, so for me, it's worth it to just choose water instead", Azad said. And, they may even lead to increased weight gain. When other risk factors for the illness were considered by researchers (risk genes, cholesterol levels, bodyweight and diabetes, ) the correlation was practically lost. Bottled-water consumption in the USA hit 39.3 gallons per capita past year, while carbonated soft drinks fell to 38.5 gallons, marking the first time that soda was knocked off the top spot, according to recent data from industry tracker Beverage Marketing Corp.

For example, a person drinking a no-calorie soda might feel free to eat calorie-laden foods, Azad noted.

Over ten years, the increases in weight and Body Mass Index, or BMI, was modest.

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