Are you turning to artificial sweeteners or other sugar substitutes to lose weight? Although these sweeteners may help obese individuals reduce and cut calories, they may also have negative health effects, a study warns.
Artificial sweeteners are not digested by the body. However, the recent study suggests that bacteria in the gut may be able to break down artificial sweeteners, resulting in negative health effects.
Currently, there are many new sugar substitutes that are used in foods and beverages and are marketed as ‘sugar-free’ or ‘diet’ including soft drinks, chewing gum, jellies, baked goods, candy, fruit juice, ice cream and yogurt.
“Our study shows that individuals with obesity who consume artificial sweeteners, particularly aspartame, may have worse glucose management than those who don’t take sugar substitutes”, said Jennifer Kuk from York University’s school of kinesiology and health science in Canada.
For the study published in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism, data from 2,856 adults from the ‘Third National Health and Nutrition Survey’ (NHANES III) was used.
Individuals reported their diet over the past 24 hours and were categorised as consumers of artificial sweeteners – aspartame or saccharin, or high or low consumers of natural sugars – sugar or fructose.
The diabetes risk was measured as the ability to manage blood sugars using an oral glucose tolerance test.
The results showed that those who used artificial sweeteners, particularly aspartame, may have worse glucose management than those who don’t take sugar substitutes.
“We didn’t find this adverse effect in those consuming saccharin or natural sugars”, Kuk added.
“We will need to do future studies to determine whether any potentially negative health effects of artificial sweeteners outweigh the benefits for obesity reduction”, Kuk stated.
Further investigation is needed to determine if there are any health effects of using these sweeteners, the researchers noted.