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article imageArtificial sweeteners can make you fatter — Science proves it

By Claudio Buttice     Jul 13, 2016 in Health
A new study co-led by the University of Sydney showed that artificial sweeteners may contribute to weight gain. Although they were invented for the opposite purpose, eating "sugar-free" and "diet" foods and beverages may actually make you fatter.
Stevia-sweetened coffee and coke are probably much less healthy than anyone thought. People around the world use artificial sweeteners, hoping that reducing the actual amount of sugar in their food may help them lose some weight. Researchers from the Garvan Institute of Medical Research and the University of Sydney however, proved that their "zero-calorie" foods and "sugar-free" drinks are making them gain even more weight. A whole population becoming fatter is a serious concern in a world where global obesity has become one of the largest epidemics ever faced by humankind.
In the United States six synthetic sweeteners are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA): sucralose, saccharin, aspartame, advantame, acesulfame potassium (Ace-K), and neotame. These substances act by enhancing the flavor and sweetness of beverage and foods without increasing blood sugar. Diabetics and healthy people as well use them to reduce the caloric content without altering the nutritional purposes of foods, since a very small quantity of high-intensity sweetener can achieve the same level of sweetness of a substantial amount of natural sugar (sucrose).
The study published in the journal Cell Metabolism found that sweeteners may play a substantial role in weight gain instead, since they can increase the hunger in people who use them, forcing them to eat more than usual. Scientists fed several fruit flies with sucralose-sweetened food for five days, then resumed the animals' normal diet. As soon as the flies had access to naturally sweetened food, they consumed a significantly higher amount of it, increasing their caloric intake by 30 percent. The research team found that a specific brain region called the starvation response pathway was activated, altering the animals' taste perception to the point that they found normal sugar to be much more palatable. The brain, in fact, detected an unbalance between perceived food sweetness and its actual caloric content and tried to recalibrate it by increasing the overall energy intake.
Professor Herbert Herzog tested the same experiment on mammals and replicated it on mice. The animal ate food sweetened with sucralose (that is 650 times sweeter than sugar) for seven days, and they showed the same behavior as fruit flies since the same neuronal network was activated. Mice showed, in fact, other symptoms normally associated with mild starvation, such as hyperactivity, insomnia and decreased sleep quality. This is not the first study that shows that artificial sweeteners are not as inert as initially thought to be. These findings suggest a concerning link between obesity risk and consumption of "diet" food and drinks, and should be taken into account by anyone who is seeking to effectively control his weight or the weight of his patients.
More about Nutrition, Diet, sugarfree, Food, Weight loss
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