Artificial sweeteners linked to risk of weight gain, heart disease and other health issues

July 17, 2017
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Artificial sweeteners may be associated with long-term weight gain and increased risk of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease, according to a new study published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal)

Consumption of artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame, sucralose and stevia, is widespread and increasing. Emerging data indicate that artificial, or nonnutritive, sweeteners may have negative effects on metabolism, and appetite, although the evidence is conflicting.

To better understand whether consuming artificial sweeteners is associated with negative long-term effects on weight and heart disease, researchers from the University of Manitoba's George & Fay Yee Centre for Healthcare Innovation conducted a systematic review of 37 studies that followed over 400 000 people for an average of 10 years. Only 7 of these studies were randomized controlled trials (the gold standard in clinical research), involving 1003 people followed for 6 months on average.

The trials did not show a consistent effect of artificial sweeteners on weight loss, and the longer observational studies showed a link between consumption of artificial sweeteners and relatively higher risks of weight gain and obesity, , diabetes, and other health issues.

"Despite the fact that millions of individuals routinely consume artificial sweeteners, relatively few patients have been included in clinical trials of these products," said author Dr. Ryan Zarychanski, Assistant Professor, Rady Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Manitoba. "We found that data from clinical trials do not clearly support the intended benefits of artificial sweeteners for weight management."

"Caution is warranted until the long-term health effects of artificial sweeteners are fully characterized," said lead author Dr. Meghan Azad, Assistant Professor, Rady Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Manitoba. Her team at the Children's Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba is undertaking a new study to understand how artificial consumption by pregnant women may influence , metabolism and gut bacteria in their infants.

"Given the widespread and increasing use of , and the current epidemic of obesity and related diseases, more research is needed to determine the long-term risks and benefits of these products," said Azad.

The study was conducted by researchers from the University of Manitoba's George & Fay Yee Centre for Healthcare Innovation and the Children's Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Explore further: Sugar substitutes may cut calories, but no health benefits for individuals with obesity

More information: Canadian Medical Association Journal (2017). www.cmaj.ca/lookup/doi/10.1503/cmaj.161390

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10 comments

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MaryJ
1 / 5 (1) Jul 17, 2017
But glucose is very important for brain functioning. This has also been proven through brain studies.
antialias_physorg
4 / 5 (4) Jul 17, 2017
Which part of 'artificial' didn't you understand?
MaryJ
5 / 5 (1) Jul 17, 2017
Normal white sugar consumed is not really that dangerous, unless one starts storing it as fat. Artificial or not, sugar is needed for the brain.
betterexists
1 / 5 (1) Jul 17, 2017
Some items are like a Pendulum. 1 day O.K, The other day, Nope!
Some items are not like that ....Ever Evolving.
For Ex: Recent News....on Cellphone Cameras getting rid of Lenses. Size Reduction From currently Tablet Sized Cameras to DUST Sized Cameras using NEW OPA Technology !
Ultra-thin optical phased array (OPA), array composed of just 64 light receivers in an 8 by 8 grid. Processed optical signal to be passed down the waveguide to further photodiodes converting it into an electrical signal, which is used to create the final photo.
physman
5 / 5 (1) Jul 17, 2017
@betterexists that's some fine word salad you have there
Guy_Underbridge
not rated yet Jul 17, 2017
hmmm... Is the artificial sweetener the cause, or the effect?
Dug
not rated yet Jul 18, 2017
Without a proposed mechanism of how each these very chemically different sweeteners bring about an equally different wide array of disease presentations - "weight gain and obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and other health issues." this article's lack of sound scientific basis is embarrassing close to pure speculation and probably more related to grant seeking..

Today we are beset by countless meta analyses (almost to the point of replacing actual empirical science) where statistics are used to generate patterns whether causality exists or not. It is interesting to note that in general all of the diseases and or conditions are also associated with just being overweight and the poor eating choices and inactive lifestyles that generally go with being over weight. As I remember it, "weight gain and obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and other health issues." - were health problems long before artificial sweeteners came to market.
HealingMindN
not rated yet Jul 18, 2017
The researchers have clearly established an assumption.
Steelwolf
not rated yet Jul 18, 2017
Stevia is a natural product, is not an 'artificial' sweetener. I sense a corporate attempt to bring down the natural product along with the very nasty, unnatural products they have been putting in our food for decades now.
snerdguy
not rated yet Jul 25, 2017
These conclusions are associative and not based on actual medical experimentation. They are subject to all sorts error inducing factors such as that most artificial sweeteners are consumed by people with weight control issues who are more likely to become diabetic. Not very many people who are of normal weight consume artificial sweeteners. Even if you replace all of the sugar in your foods with artificial sweeteners, the foods themselves still contain plenty of natural sugars and carbohydrates. So, if you are eating a balanced diet and using artificial sweeteners to reduce your calorie intake, your brain should still have plenty of glucose to function. It's these fad, starvation diets that make people sick.

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