A new study has found that instead of helping to manage weight, artificial sweeteners are instead linked to weight gain, increasing the risk of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
The USDA has approved five artificial sweeteners -- saccharin, acesulfame, aspartame, neotame, and sucralose -- to be used in food and beverages. These sweeteners are commonly found in diet soda and other zero calorie beverages, salad dressing, yogurt, baked goods, processed snack foods, and chewing gum.
Although drinking a diet soda to manage weight may seem like a healthy choice, it may actually be doing the opposite. The new study, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ), conducted a systematic review of 37 different studies analyzing over 400,000 people for an average of ten years.
Researchers found that consumption of artificial sweeteners was correlated with weight gain, not loss, as well as a plethora of other metabolic issues. "We found that data from clinical trials do not clearly support the intended benefits of artificial sweeteners for weight management," said author Dr. Ryan Zarychanski, Assistant Professor, Rady Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Manitoba.
“Our results also extend previous meta-analyses that showed higher risks of type 2 diabetes and hypertension with regular consumption of nonnutritive sweeteners,” conclude the authors of the study, “as well as increase in BMI and elevated risk of cardiometabolic disease.”
The authors note that further research is needed to fully classify both the long-term risks and benefits of artificial sweeteners.
The study falls in line with other research linking artificial sweeteners to numerous health issues.
For now, stay clear of the zero calorie beverages and stick to real sugar (or delicious alternative sugars) -- and it's best if you do so in moderation.
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