The low-calorie myth: Artificial fat substitutes actually cause weight gain

Thursday, July 14, 2011 by: Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
Tags: fat substitute, weight gain, health news

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(NaturalNews) Trying to lose weight by eating foods with imitation fat substitutes and artificial sweeteners can actually be a cause of weight gain, according to a new study published online in the American Psychological Association (APA) journal Behavioral Neuroscience. According to researchers from Purdue University in Indiana, consuming low-calorie fat and sugar substitutes appears to actually induce weight gain rather than weight loss.

Dr. Susan Swithers, lead researcher, and her colleagues observed that test rats fed high-fat diets actually fared better in the weight department than rats fed low-fat, low-calorie diets. Using regular Pringles chips, which are high in fat and calories, as well as low-calorie Pringles, which contain olestra, an artificial zero-calorie fat substitute, the team observed that fake fats confuse the bodily response to food intake, and the body basically does not know what to do with these artificial substances other than to store them in the body as fat.

In the end, rats that were fed only a high-calorie diet without any added artificial, low-calorie foods tended to remain smaller than rats that ate a high-calorie diet as well as the low-calorie Pringles containing olestra. In fact, whenever artificial, low-calorie Pringles were added to the mix of otherwise high-calorie diets, added weight gain was a result.

"Our research showed that fat substitutes can interfere with the body's ability to regulate food intake, which can lead to inefficient use of calories and weight gain," said Dr. Swithers. "Eating food which is naturally low in fat and calories may be a better route than relying on fat substitutes or artificial sweeteners."

Previous research by Swithers found the same thing for artificial sweeteners, which tend to confuse the body's nutrient receptors into thinking they are about to receive real sugar, only to receive a fake sugar substitute in its place. Rather than properly metabolize these fake sugars, the body just ends up storing them as fat.

Editor's Note: NaturalNews is strongly against the use of all forms of animal testing. We fully support implementation of humane medical experimentation that promotes the health and well-being of all living creatures.

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