Obese people who consume artificial sweeteners may have worse glucose management than others, warn researchers.
Most obese individuals take artificial sweeteners to cut calories and lose weight as they are not digested by the body.
However, the study suggests that the bacteria in the gut may be able to break down artificial sweeteners, resulting in negative health effects.
“Our study shows that individuals with obesity who consume artificial sweeteners, particularly aspartame, may have worse glucose management than those who don’t take sugar substitutes,” said Professor Jennifer Kuk from York University in Canada.
“We didn’t find this adverse effect in those consuming saccharin or natural sugars. We will need to do future studies to determine whether any potentially negative health effects of artificial sweeteners outweigh the benefits for obesity reduction,” said Kuk.
Currently, there are many new sugar substitutes that are used in foods. The researchers note that further investigation is needed to determine if there are any health effects of using these sweeteners.
For the study, data from 2,856 US adults from the Third National Health and Nutrition Survey (NHANES III) was used.
Individuals reported their diet over the past 24 hours and were categorised as consumers of artificial sweeteners (aspartame or saccharin), or high or low consumers of natural sugars (sugar or fructose).
Diabetes risk was measured as the ability to manage blood sugars using an oral glucose tolerance test.
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