More research needed on artificial sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners may cause obesity and increase the risk of diabetes, says new study.

FOOD and drink that contain artificial sweeteners could increase weight and heighten the risk of diabetes.

A study on the effects of the sugar substitute found it can negatively impact on a person’s metabolism, gut bacteria, and appetite.

Sweeteners are widely used as a low-calorie alternative to sugar, but researchers fear its perceived slimming abilities have been exaggerated.

Instead, it could increase the risk of diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and obesity, the study claims.

But the findings were dismissed by industry bosses, who said the no-calorie ingredient had been “deemed safe” by health regulators across the world.

Scientists from the University of Manitoba, Canada, reviewed 37 studies, following more than 400,000 people for an average of 10 years.

They found that scientific evidence does “not clearly support” the intended weight-loss benefits of artificial sweeteners, one author of the paper, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, said.

Ryan Zarychanski, a professor from the Canadian institution, said: “Despite the fact that millions of individuals routinely consume artificial sweeteners, relatively few patients have been included in clinical trials of these products.”

Evidence about the benefits and drawbacks of sweeteners was conflicting, however, the study said.

Lead author, Meghan Azad, said: “Caution is warranted, until the long-term health effects of artificial sweeteners are fully characterised.

“Given the widespread, and increasing, use of artificial sweeteners, and the current epidemic of obesity and related diseases, more research is needed to determine the long-term risks and benefits of these products.”

Doubt was cast on the report by the British Soft Drinks Association, which said the findings ran in opposition to other existing evidence.


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