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Researchers Say Artificial Sweetener Saccharin Contributes to Weight Gain

Artificial Sweeteners Sweet’N ‘Gro’?

You know that saying, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is”?  It’s a saying that winds up being true more often than not.  Here’s the latest evidence of its truthfulness…

Research conducted by scientists from Purdue University has found that those artificial sweeteners found in diet sodas, desserts, bottled waters and cereals does not help in the battle of the bulge.  In fact, artificial sweeteners may even contribute to weight gain and obesity!

Published in the February issue of the journal Behavioral Neuroscience, the Boilermaker (Purdue’s mascot) researchers fed lab rats two different kinds of yogurts:  one group with regularly sweetened yogurt, the other sweetened with the zero-calorie sweetener saccharin.  Across the board, the rats that ate the yogurt flavored with saccharin put on more weight, more fat, and ate more food later on than the rats that ate the regular yogurt.

What explains such a finding?  Well, the researchers don’t know for sure, but they believe it has something to do with the fact that zero-calorie sweeteners are digested in a fashion that the body doesn’t recognize.  When we consume food, our bodies respond through the feeling of satiety, or fullness.  This is the body’s own way of saying, “Ok, I’m full, enough is enough.”  With zero-calorie sweeteners, however, that satiety factor is taken away, often leading one to eat more than they would were they to eat a food sweetened with regular sugar. 

As with nearly all of these studies, more research needs to be done before making any broad based conclusions, but their theory makes a lot of sense, especially considering the fact that one in three Americans are considered obese, despite the widespread consumption of these so called “guilt-free” foods.

Another interesting finding by the researchers was the fact that the group of rats that ate the saccharin-sweetened yogurt did not show an increased core body temperature.  Of course, the body’s temperature and metabolic rate increase when we consume calories as calories are a unit of heat.  How fast the body’s metabolic rate is often determines one’s propensity to gain weight (an increased metabolic rate is one of the many reasons why exercising regularly is so beneficial).  The fact that the rats’ metabolic rate did not increase in the saccharin group may help explain the observed weight gain.

If this sounds counterintuitive to you—eating fewer calories yet putting on more weight—fear not:  It sounds counterintuitive to the scientists as well, especially considering the fact that millions of people can eat diet foods and no-calorie sweeteners without putting on a pound.  But for millions of other people—people who are eating these no-calorie sweeteners, exercising regularly, and not losing weight—this finding helps explain the lack of results  (it also corroborates a finding on diet soda’s link to obesity I wrote about last year).

So, does this finding mean you should start drinking regular soda and foods saturated with sugar rather than no-calorie sweeteners?  Certainly not.  What it means is that just because a food or drink without added calories may seem like you can eat more of it, you can’t.  After all, as the saying goes, if it sounds too good to be true…well, you know the rest. 

Related Posts

  1. More to Gain from Whole Grain…
  2. New Mexico Bill Could Ban The Use of This Toxic Sweetener
  3. Artificial Food Additives Increase Hyperactivity Risk in Children, Study Finds
  4. Dieters Reduce Calorie Intake Instead of Increasing Exercise, Poll Reveals
  5. “Magnificent” Magnesium Supplementation Boosts Bone Density, Researchers Conclude
  


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