Do Sweeteners Cause Weight Gain?

Do sweeteners cause weight gain? This question has been asked since the early 20th century when sugar prices hit an all-time low due to the colonial trade.

Much research has been done over this controversial topic for many years. In the 1960s Yudkin proposed the idea that sugar, or as he called it, “pure, white and deadly sugar”, is more instrumental in causing cardiovascular diseases than saturated fat, but a French physician, Gerard Derby, concluded, in 1995, that there was very less evidence that sugar had harmful effects on the human body. So, what should we, the consumers believe?

More recently, however, there might be evidence that high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is a “toxic substance” and a major determinant of non-communicable diseases. An experiment was done on rodents by feeding them yoghurt with and without Low-Calorie Sweeteners (LCS).

The rodents that consumed the LCS yoghurt did indeed gain weight, but this weight gain could not be explained solely by the LCS. This is because the yoghurt without LCS also caused weight gain in some rodents. This, obviously, might not be the same case for humans but there is a chance that LCS does cause weight gain.

So, to answer this question, having excess amount of sugar is “deadly” and does have harmful effects on our body, but having it in small and irregular doses does not harm us.

Weight gain can be caused by a lot of factors and simply putting the blame on sweeteners isn’t the solution therefore, to ensure minimal weight gain, I would recommend having a healthy diet but remember to treat yourself occasionally!


Milad Rouf Final Year Medical Student, Cardiff University.