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Sugar Substitutes No Better Than Real Sugar For Weight Loss And Health Outcomes, Study Finds

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Researchers of a new study find no huge benefits from consuming sugar substitutes instead of sugar when it comes to health benefits and weight loss. As comprehensive as the study is, it is still unlikely to end the debate on the harms and benefits of sugar substitutes.

Study On Sugar Substitutes

Sugar is one of the first things people cut out from their diet when they decide to eat healthier. In its place, they instead consume substitutes such as stevia, which is a natural sweetener, as well as aspartame and saccharin, which are artificial sweeteners. However, there is some debate over the actual benefits and even the safety of consuming such sugar substitutes, and results of studies on the matter are still rather inconclusive.

To clarify these results, researchers of a new study conducted a comprehensive review of information from 56 studies that compared people who use sugar substitutes and those who did not. In total, the researchers reviewed nearly 14,000 unique records, with a variety of outcomes from body mass index (BMI) and eating behavior, to cancer, heart disease, and blood sugar levels.

Health Benefits From Sugar Substitutes

Although some smaller studies showed a slight improvement in BMI and fasting blood glucose levels among those who used sugar substitutes, for the most part, there were no significant differences in health outcomes between those who used sugar substitutes and those who did not.

Furthermore, there was no evidence of weight gain between those who used sugar and sugar substitutes, and there was also no evidence of any effect of sugar substitutes among overweight or obese individuals who were actively trying to lose weight.

And while there was no evidence linking sugar substitutes and cancer or other major health problems, researchers describe the evidence proving sugar substitutes’ safety to be of low quality.

Sugar Substitute Debate

The researchers note that their findings suggest the need for larger and longer-term studies of sugar substitutes, especially since many of the studies they reviewed had few participants, and were held for short periods of time. As such, despite the new study being one of the most comprehensive reviews on the matter, it’s likely that the debate on the use of sugar substitutes will continue.

The study is published in The BMJ.

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