A Surprising Cause of Unwanted Weight Gain

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October 10, 2014 by Dr. Sana Keller

Now remember…I’m just the messenger…and I care about you. And, since I care about you, I am sharing some important information that could have a definite impact on your health and your family’s health. msgr

A common perception of (and therefore valid reason for using) artificial sweeteners, such as Sucralose/Splenda and Aspartame/Nutrasweet/Equal, is that of a safe sugar substitute to reduce calorie intake and thus aid in weight loss, healthy weight maintenance and disease prevention. Yet, over the past several years, more and more clinical studies are proving that perception to be untrue.

test tube Below are some of the many studies and information sources that do not support this perception. Note the dates of some of the studies–this is not new information–yet the manufacturing companies of artificial sweeteners continue to promote the goodness of it all.

->Epidemiologists from the School of Medicine at The University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio reported data at the American Diabetes Association’s Scientific Sessions in 2011 showing that diet soft drink consumption is associated with increased waist circumference in humans, and a second study that found aspartame raised fasting blood sugar in diabetes-prone mice“Data from this and other prospective studies suggest that the promotion of diet sodas and artificial sweeteners as healthy alternatives may be ill-advised. They may be free of calories but not of consequences” reported Helen Hazuda, Ph.D., professor and chief of the Division of Clinical Epidemiology in the School of Medicine.


->The Preventive Medicine journal (March 1986) reported: Weight change over a 1-year period was examined in a group of 78,694 women with similar characteristics, ages 50–69 enrolled in a prospective mortality study. Artificial sweetener usage increased with relative weight and decreased with age. Those using artificial sweeteners were significantly more likely than those not using artificial sweeteners to gain weight, regardless of initial weight. These findings do NOT support the commonly-held belief that long-term artificial sweetener use either helps weight loss or prevents weight gain.

->The popular lay person’s medical advice website, webmd.com currently has the woman at computerfollowing information posted: Artificial sweeteners appear to disturb the body’s ability to count calories and, as a result, diet foods and drinks may wind up encouraging weight gain rather than weight loss. These sweeteners may also increase the risk of health problems like heart disease and diabetes, some evidence suggests.

->The Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine (June 2010) reported findings suggesting that the calorie contained in natural sweeteners may trigger a response to keep the overall energy consumption constant. The report explained that artificial sweeteners, precisely because they are sweet, encourage sugar craving and sugar dependence.


->The American Cancer Society study conducted in early 1980s included 78,694 women who were very similar with regard to age, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and lack of preexisting conditions. At one-year follow-up, 2.7 % to 7.1 % more regular artificial sweetener users gained weight compared to non-users matched by initial weight.

->Data gathered from the 25-year long San Antonio Heart Study from 2005 also sodashowed that drinking diet soft drinks increased the chances of significant weight gain, more than regular soda. On average, for each diet soft drink the participants drank per day, they were 65% more likely to become overweight during the next 7-8 years, and 41 % more likely to become obese. 

->The Harvard School of Public Health website cites a study of 3,682 individuals examined the long-term relationship between consuming artificially sweetened drinks and weight. The participants were followed for 7-8 years and their weights were monitored. After adjusting for common factors that contribute to weight gain such as dieting, exercising change, or diabetes status, the study showed that those who drank artificially sweetened drinks had a 47% higher increase in BMI than those who did not. (BMI is the measure of relative weight based on an individual’s mass and height.) This study was published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2007.


->The September 2014 issue of the journal Nature included a report on how artificial sweeteners increase the blood sugar levels in both mice and humans by interfering with microbes in the gut. Increased blood sugar levels are an early indicator of Type 2 diabetes and metabolic disease. “This increase in consumption of artificial sweeteners coincides with the obesity and diabetes epidemics”, Eran Segal of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, and his co-authors said. “Our findings suggest that non-caloric artificial sweeteners may have directly contributed to enhancing the exact epidemic that they themselves were intended to fight.”

I realize that there are various reports disputing these findings—and also realize that those disputing are often lobbyists for a company that manufactures artificial sweeteners or similar entities with much to lose if artificial sweetener use was dramatically reduced. I do not have a hidden agenda for sharing this information. I believe this is how information related to our health should be presented—without an agenda (other than optimal health) to avoid potential conflicts of interest. My agenda is to promote optimal long-term health by providing factual information.

Healthier alternatives?

Beverages: Hint Water, Hint Fizz, Filtered water with slices of fruit (lemon, lime, orange, strawberries…), Green tea-hot or cold (unsweetened), Herbal tea-hot or cold…

Sweeteners for food: Honey-local if possible, Maple syrup-real deal (not pancake syrup!), Black-strap molasses, Coconut palm sugar…

Remember…I’m just the messenger…and I care about you!

Thanks for reading–reading

Sana Keller, PhD, RN   Health Unlimited LLC    www.healthunlimited.biz

Photo credits: de123rf.com, gorlinsyndrome.com, nydailynews.com, aegislawfirm.com, angrytrainerfitness.com, fibrotv.com, lchdhealthcare.org, worldwideenglish-ellieren.blogspot.com

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