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Zero-Calorie Sweeteners Can Still Increase Risk For Diabetes And Obesity

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Awareness of the unwanted health effects of too much sugar has led to an increase in the consumption of zero-calorie artificial sweeteners, which are also used in diet and zero-calorie sodas.

Artificial Sweeteners Aspartame And Acesulfame Potassium

Despite that these products are often consumed for health reasons, findings of a new study suggest that sugar replacements such as aspartame and acesulfame potassium may also cause health problems often linked to high consumption of sugar and sweetened food and drinks.

Brian Hoffmann, of Medical College of Wisconsin and Marquette University, and colleagues who conducted the new study found that after just three weeks of feeding rats common artificial sweeteners, the animals' blood samples show significant changes in the concentration of fats, amino acids, and biochemicals.

Higher lipids and other fats in the body could contribute to obesity and diabetes over time. Evidence of protein breakdown that the researchers observed could also mean that the body turns to burning away muscles as a source of energy.

The sweeteners sort of trick the body and once the body does not get the required energy because it needs some sugar for proper functioning, it likely finds a source elsewhere. A 2017 study showed that when there is a mismatch between the perceived sweetness and the actual calories consumed, the brain could become confused.

Link To Diabetes And Obesity

The results suggest that artificial sweeteners change how the body gets its energy and processes fat and that these negative effects are linked to obesity and diabetes.

The researchers said that if artificial sweeteners increase the risk of diabetes, they likely do it in a different way than sugar. Instead of overwhelming the body's machinery, these sugar replacements wear it out.

The researchers said that regardless of the use of non-caloric artificial sweeteners, cases of obesity and diabetes continue to increase.

"In our studies, both sugar and artificial sweeteners seem to exhibit negative effects linked to obesity and diabetes, albeit through very different mechanisms from each other," Hoffman said.

The findings also found that acesulfame potassium accumulates in the blood. A higher concentration of this artificial sweetener is linked to harmful effects on the cells that line the blood vessels.

"Overall, results of this study suggest that exposure to high glucose and artificial sweetener administration lead to unique mechanisms of vascular impairment and homeostatic alterations that may be important during the onset and progression of diabetes and obesity," Hoffman and colleagues reported.

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