Too good to be true: Study confirms that artificial sweeteners can’t promote weight loss
03/12/2019 // Cassie B. // Views

Lots of dieters like to take “shortcuts” that they believe will help them continue to enjoy their favorite foods without getting too far off track from reaching their goals. However, it’s becoming increasingly clear that one very popular substitute – artificial sweeteners – isn’t really helping their weight loss efforts after all.

A study published in The BMJ in January found that there is “no evidence” that choosing alternative sweeteners benefits weight loss or health. The substitutes studied included not only artificial sweeteners like saccharin (Sweet N Low), aspartame (Equal, NutraSweet), and sucralose (Splenda), but also some considered more natural, like stevia (Sweetleaf, Truvia).

In addition, the researchers said they couldn’t rule out the potential of these products harming those who consume them.

University of Freiburg Institute for Evidence in Medicine Head Dr. Joerg Meerpohl said: “While non-sugar sweeteners are very widely used, there is no good and unambiguous evidence that they are good for your health.”

He added that given the lack of proven health benefits and the uncertainty over potential harm, people should ask themselves if using these products is a good idea, especially when they’re using them in greater quantities.

The analysis involved reviewing 56 different studies measuring the effect of non-sugar sweeteners on a vast array of health outcomes among adults and children, including blood sugar control, weight, cancer and heart disease. The study was carried out by the nonprofit research group Cochrane to support the guidelines currently in development by the World Health Organization on the use of such products.


You can find these kinds of sweeteners in a range of products geared toward dieters, including diet beverages, frozen desserts, light yogurt, chewing gum, baked goods, and candy. Of course, it’s also worth mentioning that many of these diet foods are highly processed and also contain other chemicals that put your health in jeopardy.

The dangers of sweeteners

Moreover, even though this analysis couldn’t rule out potential harm, other studies have shown there are some real dangers involved in using these products. The Multiethnic Study of Atherosclerosis associated consuming diet drinks daily with a 36 percent higher risk of metabolic syndrome and a 67 percent greater risk of type 2 diabetes. A 2017 study published in the November edition of Current Gastroenterology Reports found that these substances contribute to obesity as well as metabolic syndrome – hardly the effects that most people trying to lose weight are going for!

Experts theorize that these sweeteners cause changes to intestinal bacteria that could foster weight gain. They also increase appetite, causing people to eat more. In addition, there is a psychological component at play; those who believe they haven’t eaten that many calories believe they can “splurge” in other areas of their diet and end up consuming even more calories than they otherwise might have.

Moreover, artificial sweeteners are stronger than table sugar, as evidenced by the fact that you often need a far smaller amount of products like Splenda – which is said to be 600 times sweeter than sugar – than you would of white sugar in a recipe. Consequently, frequently consuming these products overstimulates your sugar receptors, which means that healthier but comparatively less-sweet foods like fruit start to lose their appeal, and naturally unsweet foods like vegetables might even become unpalatable.

When it comes to weight loss, getting as close to nature as possible is always your best bet. Your diet soda might have fewer calories than an apple, but foods that naturally contain sugar like whole fruit also deliver a lot of nutrients and fiber, making them far better choices than artificial sweeteners for overall health as well as your weight.

See more news coverage about aspartame at

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