America’s obesity rate is escalating at an alarming rate. The market place is abundant in magic pills and diet solutions that guarantee weight loss results, yet the trends suggest they have little to no long-term impact on obesity, diabetes or heart disease.
One of the most popular methods of helping to reduce total calorie and sugar intake is the use of artificial sweeteners like Splenda, Sweet-n-Low, and Equal, among others. Intuitively, people choose non-caloric artificial sweeteners to help assist in weight loss or maintenance, but could it be they are doing themselves more harm than good?
So what does the research say?
Quite the opposite! Research has found that artificial sweeteners actually may promote weight gain despite their zero-calorie content (1). The San Antonio Heart Study examine 3500+ aduits over 7-8 years in the 1980’s found that people using artificial sweeteners had a higher average BMI as when compared to those who did not. Another study done by the American Cancer Society resulted in a similar finding.
“Unsweetening the world’s diet may be the key to reversing the obesity epidemic”
Scientists believe that artificial sweeteners, especially when consumed on an empty stomach, may actually contribute to increases in hunger and subsequent calorie intake. How does that work? When your tongue senses something sweet, it sends messages to the brain that food will soon be entering the stomach. The brain then tells the stomach to begin secreting digestive enzymes to be used in breaking down the food into absorbable components. When the stomach receives something that isn’t food (i.e. the artificial sweetener) it doesn’t receive full pleasure or reward from that food. The result is more cravings, especially for sugar. In addition, artificial sweeteners, because they are sweet, encourage sugar craving and dependence.
Bottom Line: The more sugary or sweet tasting foods we eat, whether or not they have calories, the more we desire those sugary or sweet foods. “Unsweetening the world’s diet may be the key to reversing the obesity epidemic (2)”.