Drinks that replace sugar with sweeteners are being linked to increased abdominal fat , and now an international group has conducted a study to see how well sweeteners serve to keep the line.
Meghan Azad , a researcher at the University of Manitoba, and her colleagues have reviewed dozens of studies on the long-term effects of sugar substitutes, trying to detect whether there was a predominant trend.
The bottom line is that fewer calories doesn’t seem to be the solution, or at least not the only one: The study found that not only were artificial sweeteners dangerous when it came to weight control, but people who routinely drank them had a lowering of calories. body mass index increased, and they were also at increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease .
These findings are concerning when we consider that almost half of adults and a quarter of children consume artificial sweeteners every day .
The problem is even more worrisome because many mistakenly believe that having a couple of diet or diet sodas a day is not bad, almost like drinking water, and others may inadvertently consume artificial sweeteners in products like yogurt and granola bars. Still, the study authors caution that more studies should be done to support these notions and explain exactly what causes them .
William Cefalu , chief medical scientist for the American Diabetes Association, who has reviewed Azad’s study, has noted that artificial sweeteners are still a good tool for diabetics trying to reduce carbohydrates and manage their blood glucose levels, But he cautions that moderation is necessary, agreeing that more studies are needed on the long-term effects of artificial sweeteners, especially in people with diabetes.
The reasons for those who take sweeteners to gain weight could also be purely psychological: by drinking diet drinks, they would tend to eat more thinking that they are already ingesting less sugar.
But perhaps there is a metabolic process that we ignore that starts when the sweet taste is perceived but there is no sugar. For now, the best advice is that consumers don’t automatically assume that artificially sweetened foods are the healthiest alternative .