Monday, July 17, 2017

Artificial Sweets May* Be Killing You

Some of you remember my vocal arguments against the widespread use of hydrogenated oil in the 90s and beyond ("Artificial Fats Are Killing You") Over the last couple years, I've come to have similar doubts about artificial sweeteners (though I haven't been nearly so vocal for whatever reason--less evidence, probably). But it is one of the reasons I stopped drinking diet soda and energy drinks, just to be on the safe side. More evidence is accumulating that such things may be bad for you.
Consumption of artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame, sucralose and stevia, is widespread and increasing. Emerging data indicate that artificial, or nonnutritive, sweeteners may have negative effects on metabolism, gut bacteria and appetite, although the evidence is conflicting. To better understand whether consuming artificial sweeteners is associated with negative long-term effects on weight and heart disease, researchers from the University of Manitoba's George & Fay Yee Centre for Healthcare Innovation conducted a systematic review of 37 studies that followed over 400 000 people for an average of 10 years. Only 7 of these studies were randomized controlled trials (the gold standard in clinical research), involving 1003 people followed for 6 months on average. The trials did not show a consistent effect of artificial sweeteners on weight loss, and the longer observational studies showed a link between consumption of artificial sweeteners and relatively higher risks of weight gain and obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and other health issues.