How Sweet It Is!…..Or Not?

Artificial sweeteners packetsThere has been a lot of controversy about artificial sweeteners and health. While most studies have found them to be safe, anecdotal evidence from individuals indicates they may cause headaches or other minor side effects in some. There has also been much debate as to whether diet beverages actually help weight loss and maintenance or whether they hinder it. One theory suggest that the intense sweetness of diet beverages may entice the taste buds and cause people to seek out and consume more calories from sweet foods and beverages. This is merely conjecture, however, because there is currently no solid scientific evidence to confirm this. Again, this may be the case for some and not others.

A recent study reported in the journal Obesity this year was conducted by researchers at the University of Colorado and Temple University. A 12-week clinical trial separated 303 overweight or obese participants into two groups – those allowed to drink 24 ounces of diet beverages, including diet sodas, teas and flavored waters, or those who were in a control group that drank water only. Each subject had a calorie target to lose 1 to 2 pounds per week. Subjects in the diet beverages group lost an average of 13 pounds vs. 9 for the control group. Also, 64% of diet beverage users lost at least 5% of their body weight, while only 43% of the controls did so.

While this provides another piece to the artificial sweetener puzzle, it is not definitive. Future studies may either confirm or refute this one. We’ll just have to wait and see. In the meantime, artificial sweeteners may be a good alternative for sugar, especially given a recent study by CDC researchers indicating sugar may increase the risk of heart disease. We know for sure it supplies extra calories and has virtually no nutritional value.

The American Diabetes Association considers artificial sweeteners an acceptable tool that can be used to keep blood sugar from spiking. Many depend on the use of non-caloric sweeteners for weight management, replacing the calories in foods and beverages laden with sugar. The FDA has approved 6 artificial sweeteners as safe for use, given existing scientific evidence. So far they have been found to be our best alternative to sugar, one of the main contributors to weight gain in the world.

David Rath Nutrition was interviewed by Little Rock’s CBS affiliate THV Channel 11 about artificial sweeteners. It was aired on their evening news, and again during their morning news. Check it out here

Source: Obesity, June 2014

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