For years, people have used artificial sweeteners to lose weight. Once they begin a diet, they switch from consuming sugar to using products such as aspartame (Equal), sucralose (Splenda) and steviocide (Stevia) in hopes of satisfying their sugar cravings without interfering with their weight loss efforts.
But do artificial sweeteners really help with weight loss? According to a recent ABC News article, they don’t. In fact, studies show the opposite: Over time, artificial sweeteners are actually linked to weight gain.
Artificial Sweeteners and Weight Gain
Thirty studies from the Canadian Medical Association Journal that followed groups of people using artificial sweeteners over several years have recently been newly reviewed. The new analysis of these studies looked at the long-term heart health, stroke incidence and blood pressure levels of more than 406,000 people who said they use artificial sweeteners in place of sugar.
Instead of finding that consuming artificial sweeteners had positive effects, the analysis found that regular consumption of these sweeteners was associated with:
- Modest long-term increases in weight and Body Mass Index (BMI)
- Higher risk of obesity
- Higher risk of Type 2 diabetes
- Higher risk of hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Higher risk of stroke
Even people in studies that took place over a shorter period of time did not show any consistent weight loss after six months.
Why Artificial Sweeteners Don’t Help Weight Loss Efforts
In the ABC News article, Dr. Jennifer Ashton, ABC News’ chief women’s health correspondent, states that any sweetener can trigger the same response from the brain, whether it’s regular table sugar, honey or an artificial sweetener. Ashton says that all sweeteners trigger the reward centers in our brains, ultimately leading us to want more — so we end up eating more.
When people use “diet” products like sodas, food or sweeteners, they tend to eat more calorie-heavy foods as a “balance.” The medical world has known for quite some time that artificial sweeteners can lead to weight gain, and some experts believe that the chemicals in artificial sweeteners may create a reaction in the human body that causes weight gain.
What does this mean for people looking to lose weight? It’s pretty simple. Forget the “diet” foods and drinks and focus on learning proper portion control and eating a healthy, balanced diet.