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article imageStudy: Sugar substitutes may cause weight gain

By David Silverberg     Feb 12, 2008 in Health
Adding to the growing list of supposed dangers caused by artificial sweeteners is the possibility of weight gain. A new study on rats found that no-calorie saccharin could make weight loss harder to manage.
Digital Journal — Eating a sugar substitute instead of the real thing may actually contribute to weight gain, says a new study from Purdue University researchers. Rats in the small animal study that were fed regular feed and yogurt sweetened with no-calorie saccharin ingested more total calories and gained more weight than rats fed regular feed and yogurt sweetened with sugar.
Researchers say sweeteners like aspartame condition the body to no longer associate sweetness with calories, thus disrupting its ability to accurately assess caloric intake.
Leady study Susan Swithers told WebMD:
"If this is the case in rats, there is little reason to think that humans don't have this same response. It is possible that consuming these products interferes with one of the mechanisms that helps to regulate weight."
But other physicians counter that the animal study may not be applicable to us. Clinical psychologist Edward Abramson, who specializes in treating patients struggling with weight, told WebMD:
The issue of food intake and energy expenditure is much more complicated in humans.This isn’t the first study to link artificial sweeteners to negative outcomes. Last year, aspartame intake caused breast cancer and leukemia in rats, and it also has been linked to side effects such as headaches and seizures. The health benefits of sweeteners are rarely touted; instead, proponents say products like Splenda are ideal for sugar addicts hoping to wean off the substance.
The study appears in the journal Behavioral Neuroscience and you can read it online here (opens in PDF).
More about Aspartame, Sugar, Weight gain, Obesity
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