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"Diet Foods & Drinks" With Artificial Sweeteners: Can They Make You Gain Rather Than Lose Weight? Another Study Sa

Posted Dec 18 2008 7:33pm

Yet another medical study suggests that "diet" drinks and foods just aren't an effective weight loss tool.

More specifically, this new study --  from researchers at Purdue University -- reveal that artificially sweetened foods may make you gain -- rather than lose -- weight. What's more, you could pack on body fat to boot.

Not only that, but these fake sugar substitutes many cause more weight gain than sugar.

Pretty compelling findings, right?

But don't take this as license to ditch the sugar substitutes and go for the sugar instead. (As readers of SUGAR SHOCK! know, I'm not a fan of large quantities of sugar or artificial sweeteners.)

The new study -- which can be read in the current issue of the American Psychological Association's Behavioral Neuroscience -- found that rats fed yogurt sweetened with the artificial sweetener saccharin gained body weight and body fat.

In fact, the researchers conclude their data indicate that "consumption of products containing artificial sweeteners may lead to increased body weight and obesity by interfering with fundamental homeostatic, physiological processes."

Swithersdavidsonlo This isn't the first time we've heard such artificial-sweeteners-can-make-you-gain-weight conclusions from study co-authors Susan E. Swithers, Ph.D., an associate professor, and Terry Davidson, a professor, both in the psychological services department at Purdue University.

Back in April 2004, in a paper called, "A Pavlovian Approach to the Problem of Obesity," which appeared in the International Journal of Obesity -- she and colleague Terry Davidson discussed two more studies showing that artificial sweeteners may disrupt the body's natural ability to "count" calories based on foods' sweetness.

Interestingly, these studies rely on the idea that like Pavlov's dogs, which salivated at the sound of a bell (because they expected food even if none was in sight), these rats fed artificial sweeteners tend to anticipate lots of calories when they taste something sweet.

So, with the new study, when the rats ate saccharin-sweetened food containing no calories, the rats ate more and gained weight nonetheless.

"The animals that had the artificial sweetener appear to have a different anticipatory response," Dr. Swithers told Alice Park of TIME magazine.

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