Are artificial sweeteners really causing you to gain weight?
A review of current research has suggested a link between sweetener consumption, obesity, cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. There’s a few problems with reporting this as a headline:
It suggests that the sweeteners are causing weight gain, meaning that they would have contain calories, of which they contain very few. They’ve also been found to have no effect on blood glucose or energy intake.
An interpretation of this may be that sweeteners don’t stimulate the same parts of the brain as sugar resulting in a lessened feeling of fullness, resulting in eating more. Fortunately, research also has you covered there, because sweetener consumption has been shown to not be linked to feelings of hunger.
The data may be a result of the fact that people who consume more sweetened beverages are also more likely to over indulge in other aspects of diet and lifestyle, producing this data that makes it seem like the sweeteners are responsible.
The simplest and most effective way to manage your weight is to repeatedly eat below your daily calorie quota (can be calculated with your weight and height online), artificially sweetened beverages can help you do this, though water is the gold standard.
The NHS also suggests sticking to the “eat well plate” for meals being 1 third protein/fat/dairy, 1 third carbohydrates, and 1 third vegetables. Obviously, you’ll want to jazz it up a bit more than the sketch!
Sam Fitzpatrick Final Year Medical Student, Cardiff University.
Milad Rouf Final Year Medical Student, Cardiff University.
Azad, M., Abou-Setta, A., Chauhan, B., Rabbani, R., Lys, J., Copstein, L. and Mann, A. et al. 2017. Nonnutritive sweeteners and cardiometabolic health: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials and prospective cohort studies. Canadian Medical Association Journal 189(28), pp. E929-E939.
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