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Artificial Sweeteners Have Been Linked To Weight Gain
17 July 2017, 02:57 | Melissa Porter
But a new study links them to the opposite. Across the board in the studies, those who consumed moreartificial 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.
In an attempt get more solid answers, the research team analysed data from 37 separate studies - 7 clinical trials and 30 cohort studies - which monitored more than 400,000 people in total, for an average period of 10 years.
Azad's research suggests that "long term consumption of sweeteners may have adverse effects".
This is especially important as the number of people using artificial sweeteners, such as Aspartame and Sucralose, is increasing, Azad said.
The importance of these types of reviews is huge as there are so many people around the globe who use these sweeteners, and a massive portion of those people actually consume them once a day.
Ryan Zarychanski, a professor from the Canadian university involved in the study, said: "Despite the fact that millions of individuals routinely consume artificial sweeteners, relatively few patients have been included in clinical trials of these products". Observational studies that link the sweeteners to health problems do not prove the sweeteners themselves are responsible.
He agrees with Azad's call for more research into the matter.
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There are many theories on why artificial sweeteners may not be good for weight loss or health.
Consumers may want to think twice about relying on artificial sweeteners, says a Manitoba researcher who found no evidence the sweeteners help with weight loss and some potential health harm beyond the waistline. "They're shifting calories to other foods", Azad explained. They may trigger overcompensation, they might confuse the body, or they may even alter a person's metabolism. If you choose a no-sugar-added ice cream, for instance, you may eat more of it.
NIH pediatric endocrinologist Dr. Kristina Rother, who wasn't involved in the study, said it is a strong piece of work that highlights the need for more and better-designed studies on low-calorie sweeteners. "Low-calorie sweeteners are a tool to help provide sweet taste without calories to address one aspect of calorie intake", said Robert Rankin, President of the Calorie Control Council.
Their study of nearly 4,400 adults also suggests diet drinks are more likely to cause strokes and dementia than those full of sugar. "If we are consuming them appropriately it might not matter".
Another issue with these studies is that they do not accurately represent how people use sweeteners in their real lives, due to the shortness of the studies. In the seven trials, people were randomly assigned to receive the sweetener or not, allowing researchers to compare the two groups and say with some confidence whether the substance caused a benefit or harm. "Now I just use milk".
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