Artificial Sweeteners – What the science says!
- October 11, 2018
An artificial sweetener or sugar substitute is a chemical which sweetens foods just like sugar or corn syrup, but with little to no calories. There are a number of commercially available artificial sweeteners, each varying in chemical structure and degree of sweetness, including aspartame, sucralose, saccharin, neotame, and acesulfame potassium.
Most artificial sweeteners are hundreds of times sweeter than sugar and a very small amount can entirely replace sugar in foods with negligible calories. Because of this, sugar substitutes are generally positioned as healthier options and are commonly used in health foods across categories.
While artificial sweeteners have the dual benefit of reducing calorie consumption and sugar intake, two factors that are known to improve health outcomes, research has shown that they can have systemic effects that are less than ideal, such as:
If these effects on our health weren’t enough, artificial sweeteners have been recently recognized as an emerging environmental contaminant of the aquatic environment as many of them are resistant to wastewater treatment processes.4
Objectively, sugar substitutes have lower calories than actual sugar, and in that respect can reduce calorie consumption. However, most of the research on artificial sweeteners has not shown a consistent impact on weight loss, but have shown a link between consumption of artificial sweeteners and relatively higher risks of weight gain and obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and other health issues.8, 9
While more research in the area is needed to fully understand the risks of artificial sweeteners, current findings suggest that artificial sweeteners increase the risk of health issues at least as much as sugar and may even amplify the negative effects of sugar consumption.10
(The information contained on this article is intended solely to provide scientific studies and information on matters of interest for the readers. The links of the studies referred to for this article are mentioned below for reference.)