An urgent need for definitive data on the health impact of artificial sweeteners exists.
A meta-analysis of 37 studies examining the impact of artificial sweeteners found they are not associated with reduced body mass index (BMI). More than 400,000 people over 12 years of age were studied. The long-term studies saw a modest increase in BMI, especially with increased artificial sweetener use. Higher risks for secondary outcomes were also observed for metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes with increased intake.
PositiveTip: Train your taste buds to enjoy less intensely sweet foods for the best outcomes.
Use of artificial sweeteners skyrocketing in the U.S.
A cross-sectional study using U.S. NHANES data from 2009-2012 found kids consumption of artificial sweeteners--aspartame, sucralose, saccharin, and others--has skyrocketed. In 1999 less than 9% of children consumed low-calorie sweeteners (LCSs). By 2012 that number had grown to 25%, an almost 200% increase. These LCSs are increasing in use among adults as well. Evidence is accumulating that these sweeteners may pose some health risks, but more research is needed.
PositiveTip: Drink water instead of soda, and use a little fresh fruit to sweeten your yogurt.
Artificial sweeteners in mice changed the gut microbiome altering glucose absorption.
Mice given non-caloric sweeteners developed glucose intolerance more quickly than those given sucrose or glucose. In these animals the artificial sweeteners quickly altered the mouse microbiome in favor of pathways that enhance absorption of calorie rich glucose and short-chain fatty acids. Authors suggest this may help explain the diabetes epidemic, although this needs to be reproduced in humans.
PositiveTip: Emphasizing healthy food choices, cutting back on "junk" food, and physical activity is better than depending on non-caloric sweeteners to control weight.