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More Evidence that Artificial Sweeteners Cause Weight Gain

Posted Jul 03 2008 4:12pm
I recently told you about some research showing a nasty little correlation between the use of artificial sweeteners and compromised health, specifically where diet soda consumption was found to be associated with increased risk for both cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome, not to mention obesity.

(Two years ago, a study at the University of Texas found there was a 41% increase in the risk of being overweight for every single can of diet soda a person consumed, as I reported inDiet Soda No Bargainon September 26 2007.)

Now, in a new study from published in the February issue of Behavioral Neuroscience, rats that were fed artificially sweetened yogurt in addition to their regular rat chow wound up eating more and gaining more weight than rats that ate yogurt with real sugar. Psychiatrist Guido Frank at the University of Colorado in Denver says about this, "There is good evidence that the brain responds differently to artificial sweeteners and you should take this into account when designing weight-loss programs".

So why would you eat more calories when you're consuming artificial sweeteners?

We don't know for sure but three possible reasons have been suggested.

I've speculated before that artificial sweeteners might cause a blood sugar or insulin response simply via the mechanism of classical conditioning- much like Pavlov's dogs salivating at the sound of a bell simply because the bell had been associated with a steak. A second reason might be that exposure to artificial sweeteners in some way undermines the brain's ability to track calories and to determine when to stop eating.

Finally there's the possibility that diet soda drinkers do an eating version of what economists call "risk compensation"- theythinkthey're significantly cutting back on calories so they subconsciously "allow" themselves to eat more, usually way more than the number of calories they've "saved" by drinking diet soda!

Anyway you look at it, and whatever the reason turns out to be, most chemical artificial sweeteners aren't doing you any good.

And if you want further reason not to believe everything you read about nutrition in the popular press, a recent publication which shall remain nameless, "reported" on the recent artificial sweetener study, concluding that since artificial sweeteners were clearly bad, "you're better off eating real sugar".

Excuse me, how about a reality check young yeoman journalist: You're better off eatingneither! Just because Marlboro lights have less nicotine than Marlboro's doesn't mean Marlboro's are a good thing!
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