eWellness: Artificial Sweeteners in Sweets May Be Harmful


Dr KK Aggarwal    25 November 2017

The American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association have given a cautious recommendation to the use of nonnutritive sweeteners to help people maintain a healthy body weight and for diabetics to aid glucose control. These products should be considered like a nicotine patch. They are appreciably better than the real product sugar but not part of an optimal diet. The joint statement published in both Circulation and Diabetes Care on July 9 2012 warns that sweeteners are helpful only as long as people don t eat additional calories later as compensation. The term nonnutritive sweeteners cover six sweeteners including aspartame acesulfame K neotame saccharin sucralose and plant derived stevia. These nonnutritive substances have zero calories. Two things may happen in terms of compensation 1. Physiological where the body might be expecting more calories and so the individual may be hungrier and therefore may eat more 2. Psychological where the individual thinks they are allowed to eat more sugar rich food because they had a diet soda instead of a full sugar soda. When people use sweeteners there is compensation. The key is how much Partial compensation is ok but people often completely compensate or even overcompensate so these sweeteners have to be used smartly to be successful. Compensation seems less of a problem when these sweeteners are consumed in beverages as opposed to food. People don t really notice the lack of calories in a diet soda and so don t tend to eat more whereas if they consume a low calorie foodstuff they do tend to eat more as compensation. Its better when sweeteners are used in beverages and not sweets or other foods. One is not completely sure about the safety of these products because their long term use in humans has not been studied fully. However the artificial sweeteners on the market are almost certainly safer than consuming large amounts of sugar which has definite harm when consumed in large amounts. This harm particularly when consumed in beverage form such as soda includes increases in risks of obesity diabetes cardiovascular disease and gout. A concern though is that just replacing sugar with artificial sweeteners leaves a person especially children conditioned to high levels of sweetness which is likely to influence their food choices adversely.

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