People are now turning to low-calorie sweeteners in order to enjoy the sweetness they desire without gaining weight. New research by George Washington University in the US suggests that artificial sweeteners can increase an individual’s risk of obesity.
Increased sugar and fat in the diet is a major cause of obesity. The accumulation of fat in obesity increases your risk for type 2 diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. Public Health England has released new guidelines encouraging the public to purchase lower sugar and lower-calorie products.
So, adding low-calorie sweeteners like sucralose or aspartame to our diet should help us enjoy the sweetness of sweets without the guilt. The new study shows that these sweeteners may actually increase our chances of accumulating body fat, and this is in a dose-dependent manner. The more sweeteners you eat, the fatter your body becomes.
What they do to the body
For many years,, we have known that sweet substances, such as sugars or artificial sweeteners, bind to sensors called “sweet-taste taste receptors” in our mouth. These receptors transmit a signal to the brain that tells us we’re eating sweet food.
These sensors have also been discovered in other parts of our bodies, including the bladder, the lungs, and even the bones. It has led to questions as to what impact sweeteners and sweet taste receptors could have on our bodies.
This new research, whose results were presented at ENDO 2018, the 100th Annual Meeting of the Endocrine Society in Chicago, examines the effect artificial sweeteners can have on our fat cells. The cells on which the glucose transporter (a molecule that allows glucose to enter a cell) is located have GLUT4. When we consume more sugar, these cells absorb more glucose and accumulate more fat.
Researchers in this new study found that sucralose (commonly found in diet food and drinks) increases GLUT4 and promotes fat accumulation in these cells. These changes increase the risk of obesity.
In fact, the study studied a few obese people who consumed artificial sweeteners. It found that these individuals had a higher number of fat cells as well as heightened expression of genes related to fat production.
Artificial sweeteners can promote fat accumulation. kurhan/Shutterstock.com
No clear answer yet
Artificial sweeteners, when consumed in small quantities, have been shown to assist weight loss, improve metabolism, and even prevent injury during an infection. This new study indicates that artificial sweeteners may not be healthy for us but could contribute to obesity.
We don’t have any answers yet, given the small number of studies that compare low-calorie sugar substitutes with other sweeteners. There are many natural sweeteners available, including stevia, monk fruit, and agave nectar. They are made from fruit extracts, and they are meant to be a natural alternative to artificial sweeteners. It’s still too early to tell if these natural sweeteners are safer than artificial sweeteners or if they can increase obesity risk.
Parents must share responsibility for their children’s diet. In spite of the fact that national data is available and there are important public health initiatives in Liverpool and the north-west, Oliver’s portrayal of people experiencing poverty as part of the promotion of his new TV show Money Saving Meals is not accurate.
It doesn’t address some of the insecurities and issues of poverty.
Lifelong learning and its environment influence our choices. To change behavior is a difficult task, and to make it last, the environment in which that behavior takes place must also change. Oliver, by aligning himself with those who want to demonize the “undeserving” poor as “chavs” in the style of Jeremy Kyle, joins the ranks that are eager to blame parents for the obesity epidemic.
The food and beverage industries are the ones that bombard children with messages that promote unhealthy levels of sugar, salt, and fat while supporting the “blame victim” argument.