They are the non-sugar sweeteners we are told will cut calories and help us lose weight but new research shows they could actually be making you eat more.
Worse still artificial sweeteners may cause hyperactivity, insomnia and glucose intolerance.
A new study in fruit flies has found they consumed 30 percent more calories when fed on a diet including artificial sweetener sucralose (Splenda, Equal, etc).
The studies were done on animals but the Australian researchers believe the findings are likely to apply to people too – and they said water is the healthiest drink.
Lead researcher Greg Neely, from the University of Sydney, said he wanted to research the issue when he noticed his own stomach growling with hunger after he consumed a diet soft drink.
Research on fruit flies published in the journal Cell Metabolism today has found a complex mechanism that involves the reward centre of the brain that can explain why artificial sweeteners may cause weight gain. If that reward centre measures sweetness coming in from food but does not find a similar increase in the energy coming into the body “it will demand more energy”, Professor Neely says.
A study on humans consuming artificial sweeteners in the late 1980’s found fourteen per cent of people using these sweeteners had insomnia or difficulty sleeping, he said.
In the last 30 years worldwide obesity has more than doubled with 50 per cent of the problem attributed to genetics and 50 per cent the environment.
“If obesity is doubling that is too fast for genetics alone and there must be something about the environment that is changing,” says Professor Neely.
Research published in the journal Nature in 2014 found artificial sweeteners “may have directly contributed to enhancing the exact epidemic that they themselves were intended to fight”.
It found the increase in consumption in non-caloric artificial sweeteners coincided with the dramatic increase in the obesity and diabetes epidemic.
There have long been rumours that products labelled ‘sugar-free’ or ‘diet’ are not good for one’s health, and this new research is seeming to walk along the path of proving it.