Artificial sweeteners trick the brain: study

August 10, 2017

(HealthDay)—New research may help explain the reported link between the use of artificial sweeteners and diabetes, scientists say.

Researchers at Yale University School of Medicine say that in nature the intensity of sweetness reflects the amount of energy present. But in modern-day life, the body's metabolism is fooled when a beverage is either too sweet or not sweet enough for the amount of it contains.

That means that a sweet-tasting, lower-calorie drink can trigger a greater metabolic response than a drink with higher calories, they said.

"A calorie is not a calorie," explained senior author Dana Small, a professor of psychiatry.

"The assumption that more calories trigger greater metabolic and brain response is wrong. Calories are only half of the equation; is the other half," Small said in a university news release.

When a "mismatch" occurs, the brain's reward circuits don't register that calories have been consumed, the researchers said. Many processed foods have such mismatches, such as yogurt with low-calorie sweeteners.

"Our bodies evolved to efficiently use the energy sources available in nature," Small said. "Our modern food environment is characterized by our bodies have never seen before."

Small and her colleagues said the study may help explain the link between some and diabetes discovered in previous research. The topic remains controversial, however, and experts agree more research needs to be done.

The study was published Aug. 10 in the journal Current Biology.

Explore further: Are artificial sweeteners counterproductive when dieting?

More information: The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more on artificial sweeteners.

Related Stories

Are artificial sweeteners counterproductive when dieting?

August 1, 2017
Next time you drop an artificial sweetener into your coffee thinking of the weight you'll lose by avoiding sugar, think again.

Team deciphers sugar's siren song

January 25, 2016
Sugar's sweetness and calorie content combine to give it lethal power to destroy diets, many scientists have assumed. However, new study by Yale University researchers says the brain responds to taste and calorie counts in ...

Low-calorie sweeteners promote fat accumulation in human fat

April 3, 2017
Low-calorie, artificial sweeteners appear to play havoc with the body's metabolism, and large consumption of these sugar substitutes could promote fat accumulation, especially in people who are already obese, preliminary ...

Hormone that differentiates sugar, diet sweeteners could exist in humans

June 11, 2015
We've all been there: We eat an entire sleeve of fat-free, low-calorie cookies and we're stuffing ourselves with more food 15 minutes later.

When counting calories, consider the cream and sugar

February 7, 2017
(HealthDay)—Before you pour anything into your coffee cup besides coffee, heed the findings of a new study that shows a lot of extra calories come with that cream and sugar.

Recommended for you

Toxic chemical cocktails: scientists want safety overhaul

July 23, 2018
People and wildlife risk more harm from chemical mixtures than from separate exposure to the same chemicals, mounting scientific evidence shows.

Systematic literature analysis on the effect of genetic factors on nutrition

July 23, 2018
Individualized dietary recommendations based on genetic information are a popular trend. But a team at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has systematically analyzed scientific articles and determined that there is ...

Secondhand smoke causing thousands of still births in developing countries

July 20, 2018
The study reveals that more than 40% of all pregnant women in Pakistan are exposed to secondhand smoke—causing approximately 17,000 still births in a year.

Eating iron-fortified grain improves students' attention, memory

July 18, 2018
Adolescent students in a rural school in India who consumed an iron-biofortified version of the grain pearl millet exhibited improved attention and memory compared to those who consumed conventional pearl millet, according ...

Sugar improves memory in over-60s, helping them work smarter

July 18, 2018
Sugar improves memory in older adults – and makes them more motivated to perform difficult tasks at full capacity – according to new research by the University of Warwick.

Vaping tied to blood clots—in mice

July 18, 2018
A new study involving mice raises another concern about the danger of e-cigarettes in humans after experiments showed that short-term exposure to the device's vapors appeared to increase the risk of clot formation.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.