Diabetes and obesity have been linked to the consumption of artificial sweeteners.
A new research, led by Brian Hoffmann, assistant professor in the department of biomedical engineering at the Medical College of Wisconsin and Marquette University, found that sweeteners cause health changes linked to diabetes and obesity.
The research team fed different groups of rats diets high in sugar or common zero-calorie artificial sweeteners.
The team then tracked biochemical changes in the body after consumption of sugar or sugar substitutes.
They also looked at impacts on vascular health by studying how the substances affect the lining of blood vessels.
“In our studies, both sugar and artificial sweeteners seem to exhibit negative effects linked to obesity and diabetes, albeit through very different mechanisms from each other,” Hoffmann said.
The results suggest that artificial sweeteners change how the body processes fat and gets its energy.
In addition, they found acesulfame potassium, a common calorie-free sugar substitute, seemed to accumulate in the blood, with higher concentrations having a more harmful effect on the cells that line blood vessels.
“We observed that in moderation, your body has the machinery to handle sugar; it is when the system is overloaded over a long period of time that this machinery breaks down,” Hoffmann said.
“We also observed that replacing these sugars with non-caloric artificial sweeteners leads to negative changes in fat and energy metabolism.”
However, experts warned that the results should be approached with caution.
“Much of the research that points to negative impacts of sweeteners are based on animal studies, specifically mice and rats, so shouldn’t be applied directly to humans as we do have different metabolic pathways,” said Aisling Pigott, spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association.
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