For those who are diabetic or dieting, you may
think artificial sweeteners are your best friend.
They allow you to get the taste of sugar from
foods and beverages without the elevated
blood sugar levels or calories. But a new study
suggests this may not be the case; artificial
sweeteners could actually promote obesity and
Rather than aiding weight loss and treatment
of type 2 diabetes, researchers say
consumption of artificial sweeteners may have
the opposite effect.
The research team, including Eran Elinav of the
Department of Immunology at the Weizmann
Institute of Science in Israel, recently published
their findings in the journal Nature.
Discovered more than a century ago, artificial
sweeteners are now found in an abundance of
foods and drinks labeled “diet” or “sugar-free,”
including chewing gum, soft drinks, ice cream
Because artificial sweeteners are low calorie
and do not contain carbohydrates like sugar
(meaning they are less likely to increase blood
sugar levels), they are often recommended to
help with weight loss or to treat or prevent
metabolic disorders, such as type 2 diabetes.
However, Elinav and colleagues note that,
although some studies support such
recommendations, others have indicated that
artificial sweeteners actually increase weight
gain and raise the risk of metabolic disorders.
For example, a study from Washington
University School of Medicine reported by
Medical News Today last year claimed the
artificial sweetener sucralose is linked to
increased glucose and insulin levels.
“Despite these controversial data, the Food and
Drug Administration (FDA) approved six NAS
(non-caloric artificial sweetener) products for
use in the US,” the researchers note. These are
saccharin, sucralose, aspartame, advantame,
neotame and acesulfame potassium.
Consumption of artificial sweeteners ‘interferes
with gut bacteria’
In this latest study, the team investigated how
artificial sweeteners affected the metabolism of
For 11 weeks, some mice were supplied with
drinking water supplemented with an artificial
sweetener – either saccharin, sucralose or
aspartame – and glucose, while others drank
just water alone or water containing only sugar.
The team found that the mice that drank the
water containing glucose and an artificial
sweetener developed glucose intolerance –
elevated blood sugar levels – whereas the mice
that drank water alone or water containing only
sugar did not.
They found that this effect was brought on by
interferences in gut bacteria. “Notably,” the
researchers say, “several of the bacterial taxa
that changed following NAS consumption were
previously associated with type 2 diabetes in
Furthermore, on studying the fecal samples of
mice that consumed saccharin, the team found
that these mice de…continue reading from PUNCH.