Diabetes and obesity could be linked to artificial sweeteners, a new study has found.
Researchers from the Medical College of Wisconsin and Marquette University believe that zero-calorie sweeteners could change the way the body metabolizes fat and gets its energy, Newsweek reported.
They also found that acesulfame potassium, a component commonly found in artificial sweeteners, accumulated in the blood and posed a harmful effect on the cells that line blood vessels.
Experts have blamed the over consumption of sugar as the main culprit behind the obesity and type 2 diabetes epidemic in the U.S., The Guardian reported.
However, new research is finding that sugar replacements could pose just as dramatic health concerns as sugar.
“In our studies, both sugar and artificial sweeteners seem to exhibit negative effects linked to obesity and diabetes, albeit through very different mechanisms from each other,” lead researcher Brian Hoffmann, assistant professor in the department of biomedical engineering at the Medical College of Wisconsin and Marquette University said in a statement.
The team fed rats large amounts of either sugar or commonly used zero-calorie artificial sweeteners. After three weeks, the researchers saw significant differences in the concentrations of biochemicals, fats and amino acids in blood samples.
“We observed that in moderation, your body has the machinery to handle sugar; it is when the system is overloaded over a long period of time that this machinery breaks down,” Hoffmann said. “We also observed that replacing these sugars with non-caloric artificial sweeteners leads to negative changes in fat and energy metabolism.”
The jury is still out on which is worse for health, sugar or artificial sweeteners, but these recent findings reflect what other experts have been saying in recent months.
A separate study presented in March at the 100th annual meeting of the Endocrine Society in Chicago noted that low-calorie sweeteners could put individuals at a greater disposition to developing prediabetes and diabetes, particularly if they were obese.
“Our stem cell-based studies indicate that low-calorie sweeteners promote additional fat accumulation within cells compared with cells not exposed to these substances, in a dose-dependent fashion–meaning that as the dose of sucralose is increased more cells showed increased fat droplet accumulation,” Sabyasachi Sen, associate professor of medicine at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., said in a statement.
Another study published in the journal Nature suggested that the over consumption of artificial sweeteners could induce glucose intolerance by altering gut microbiota.
Despite these findings, Aisling Pigott, a qualified dietitian and spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association, told Newsweek that the results should be approached with caution.
“Overuse or excessive use of any products—including sugar or sweeteners—is not beneficial to health,” Pigott said. “In summary, having sweeteners is absolutely fine, but vast amounts or not addressing the other areas of your diet will not be helpful to address concerns around weight.”
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