Editorial: Artificial sweeteners are not all bad!


Artificial sweeteners may have a place in weight loss.  

Soda Cans in Ice

Soda Cans in Ice

I am a physician, and I have read a lot of articles that vilify artificial sweeteners.  There are plenty of rat studies that suggest that they may be harmful to rodents.  Very few studies have shown any significant form in humans are the recommended dosage.  In fact, I would do a step further and say that there is limited evidence to suggest that nonnutritive sweeteners have any beneficial effects on metabolism, weight, and obesity-related chronic diseases. 

Articles I have written on the topic of Artificial Sweeteners:

      1. Weight Loss Research: Diet Soda:  In this article, I went over various reasons and research that suggests that we should decrease our soda intake.  
      2. Research: No evidence artificial sweeteners provide benefits:  An article that reviews the fact that there is limited to no evidence of benefit from taking in artificial sweeteners.  
      3. Artificial sweeteners may stimulate weight gain:  This article reviews the evidence that observational data suggest that routine intake of nonnutritive sweeteners may be associated with increased risk of obesity.  

So am I telling you should avoid diet soda and artificial sweeteners?  No, I am not.  I love having a can or bottle of diet soda as a part of my day.  It is hard for me to believe that diet soda causes obesity or weight gain.  I just can’t see the biologic mechanism.  In fact, I would go a step further and say that, unless there is future research that directly shows a negative effect that we can directly tie to artificial sweeteners, I suspect that sugar is probably worse for you than diet soda.  

Sure research has shown some ties between consumption of artificial sweeteners and obesity, but a link is not a cause.  Many comprehensive studies and reviews of the relevant scientific literature have been performing without determining a definitive biologic mechanism.  This fact makes causation very doubtful.   In fact, despite the fact that many studies report a positive association between these fake sweeteners and increased body weight and obesity-related illnesses, most trials in humans demonstrate marginal benefits on body fat and weight loss.  

The bottom line:  Common sense would indicate that reducing sugar consumption will have health and weight benefits. Use of artificial sweeteners is associated with higher body weight and some metabolic diseases, but there is limited evidence to show they are the cause.  I suspect it is more that people who are overweight and at risk of obesity-related illnesses tend to turn to them to assist with weight loss.  I would still recommend moderation and for you to drink more water.  I would like to see more research in the area.

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About the Author

I am a family physician who has served in the US Army. In 2016, I found myself overweight, out of shape, and unhealthy, so I made a change to improve my health. This blog is the chronology of my path to better health and what I have learned along the way.

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