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Artificial Sweeteners

Although diet drinks may be free of calories and carbohydrates, some studies have observed an association between consumption of diet soft drinks and weight gain. Researchers emphasise that there is no scientific evidence to prove that diet drinks actually cause weight gain but are at a loss to explain the association observed in their studies. One study has observed an association between diet drinks and obesity and another between diet drinks and metabolic syndrome*.

[*Metabolic syndrome is the presence of the following factors, and indicates an increased risk for the development of heart disease, diabetes and stroke: high blood pressure ; elevated triglycerides [fats] in the blood; low levels of HDL cholesterol; high blood sugar ; excessive waist circumference / abdominal obesity ]

 

STUDY ONE: UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS, SAN ANTONIO

A study at the University of Texas examined the association between consumption of diet and regular soft drinks and weight gain in 622 non-overweight adults aged 25 to 64. After adjusting for age, gender and ethnicity, the investigators found that diet soft drinks were significantly associated with the development of obesity. On average, for each diet soft drink the participants drank per day, they were 65 percent more likely to become overweight during the next seven to eight years, and 41 percent more likely to become obese

The findings were reported at the annual meeting of the American Diabetes Association’s 65th Annual Scientific Sessions in San Diego, California, 11 June 2005: http://professional.diabetes.org/Abstracts_Display.aspx?TYP=1&CID=50748

 

STUDY TWO: FRAMINGHAM STUDY FOLLOW-UP

The Framingham Heart Study has been following 6,000 participants since 1948 to study the impact of lifestyle activities on heart function. To evaluate the relationship between metabolic syndrome and soft drinks, both regular and sugar-free, researchers analyzed data over four years. After accounting for known risk factors such as diet, smoking and physical activity, the researchers found that the subjects who consumed one or more soft drinks per day, whether regular or sugar-free soft drinks, had a 48-percent higher prevalence of metabolic syndrome compared to those who didn’t.

The study was published 24 July 2007 in the journal Circulation, which is the journal of the American Heart Association: http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=3049074

 

ARTIFICAL  SWEETENERS

Diet soft drinks, along with many other food items, are often sweetened with Aspartame [also called Equal, Canderel, Nutrasweet, Spoonful and Sweet ‘N’ Low]. Use of Aspartame has been controversial as it breaks down in the gut into methanol, a known toxin, and formaldehyde, a known cancer causing agent. There have also been claims that Aspartame is responsible for allergies, hyperactivity and addiction to diet drinks. Although Aspartame has been rigorously investigated by the FDA [US Food and Drug Administration] and by the FSA [UK Food Standards Agency] and is considered quite safe in the amounts typically ingested, controversy still rages and in response to this the supermarket chains Sainsbury’s, M&S and Asda announced in 2007 that they would no longer use Aspartame in their own label products.

 

SUMMARY

We recommend that you abstain from all artificial sweeteners, not only due to the observed association with weight gain in relation to diet soft drinks, but also because consumption of artificially sweetened drinks, whether tea, coffee or soft drinks, reinforces ongoing sugar cravings which, in the long term, makes maintenance of weight loss more difficult.