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11/18/14blog post

do sugar substitutes cause obesity?

Sugar substitutes, aka artificial sweeteners, are in so many foods: beverages, ice cream and sugar free cookies. Take a step back and read the food labels in your house. Do you see any of these (artificial sweetener) words: aspartame, saccharin, sucralose?

An interesting study came across my plate recently – maybe sugar sweeteners contribute to obesity? The research in this study was limited, but, there were some interesting results. They worked with mice: feeding them saccharin which resulted in impaired glucose tolerance, but then the glucose impairment was corrected with antibiotics. And a review of a clinical nutrition study involving 400 humans showed a possible correlation between ingesting sugar substitutes and metabolic syndrome. Are these low to no calorie food additives contributing to the obesity epidemic?

Bottom line: When Dayton Children’s eliminated sugar sweetened beverages in May 2014, such studies as this one were considered. But, no regulatory groups have published research connecting sugar substitutes with obesity and/or unsafe. What I read was one study. Sugar sweeteners are safe – just use in moderation. This article does stir up debate though – does the sweetener cause medical complications? Or does obesity plus a diet rich in sugar sweeteners cause the medical problems? I say, “Reach for water!”