Artificial Sweeteners Don't Help People Lose Weight, Review Finds

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This is especially important as the number of people using artificial sweeteners, such as Aspartame and Sucralose, is increasing, Azad said.

Artificial sweeteners, such as those contained in diet drinks, don't actually help people lose weight, a new Canadian study suggests.

It's been an ongoing debate.

A new study conducted by a group of researchers from the University of Manitoba's George & Fay Yee Centre for Healthcare Innovation, along with the Children's Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, suggests that artificial sweeteners may be linked with long-term weight gain and increased risk of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. "It should make people think and question whether they really need to be eating these artificial sweeteners".

When you don't get that calorie surge, your body may feel less satisfied-triggering our appetites and possibly prompting us to search for more substantial food.

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Miller PE, Perez V. Low-calorie sweeteners and body weight and composition: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials and prospective cohort studies. This is the only study design in human studies that does rise to the level of demonstrating cause and effect, and in the case of low calorie sweeteners' effect on body weight, evidence from RCTs is clear and consistent pointing to a modest benefit of low calorie sweeteners' use in weight loss and maintenance. None of the randomized trials showed that artificial sweeteners helped anyone lose weight; conversely, participants in some of the observational studies who ate fake sugars actually gained a little bit of weight, and were about 14% more likely overall to develop type 2 diabetes. Across the board in the studies, those who consumed more artificial sweeteners faced a "slight" increased risk of metabolic syndrome, which is a cluster of conditions from excess body fat around the waist, increased blood pressure to abnormal cholesterol.

And artificial sweeteners are popular, even if diet soda drinks have fallen in popularity.

You've been watching your sugar intake lately, so you select a diet soft drink from the office pop machine for a cool, refreshing pick-me-up. Importantly, there is not a single published randomised controlled trial, the gold standard in nutrition research, that has shown that low calorie sweeteners use can lead to weight gain or any negative health effect. This could be tampering with metabolism and predisposes you to weight gain.

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

And, she says, one option is to reduce your taste for sweet altogether rather than choosing between a sugar-sweetened or artificially sweetened drink or food. Observational studies, which are a lot longer in duration can do that much better but the drawback is that they only find associations and not causation.

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