Health and Medicine

Sugar Substitutes May Not Offer Health Benefits to the Obese

artificial sweeteners

Researchers at York University‘s Faculty of Health have found that while artificial sweeteners do help obese individuals to cut back on calories, they may also cause negative health concerns.

Professor Jennifer Kuk from the School of Kinesiology and Health Science says their latest study shows that sugar substitutes, especially aspartame, might cause consumers to have worse glucose management than those who use regular sugar.

Under normal circumstances, weight loss occurs when there are a number of healthy lifestyle changes or dietary improvements that better overall health. Artificial sweeteners are used to help people lose weight because the body is not able to digest them. This was the belief anyway, up until the recent study, which shows the body actually can break down the sweeteners, leading to negative health effects.

Kuk says the negative side effects were not found in those who used saccharin or natural sugars and future testing and observation is required in order to determine whether or not the health effects outweigh the benefits of weight loss.

In recent years, sugar substitutes are on the rise and not only are they used in packet form as an additive, but they are also regularly added directly into foods by the manufacturer as a selling point to people with differing health statuses.

For the most recent study, that was published in Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism journal, data was collected form 2,856 adults from the United States as part of the Third National Health and Nutrition Survey (NHANES III). In the survey, participants reported their diet from the previous 24 hours and were placed into two separate categories. The first category included those who consumed artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame or saccharin. The second group included people who reported consuming natural sugars, such as fructose or plain sugar. The risk of diabetes was measured based on the ability to manage blood sugars by administering an oral glucose tolerance test.

Researchers plan to continue looking into the issue so they can help people figure out the best diets for their personal needs. Of course, it is always important to speak with a doctor about your unique health requirements before making any drastic changes to your current diet and/or lifestyle.