If you’ve heeded the warnings about eating too much sugar and have turned to diet sodas and artificial sweeteners to satisfy your sweet tooth, beware. Research results presented at the American Physiological Society annual meeting in San Diego suggest these products can cause health problems linked to an increased risk for obesity, type 2 diabetes, and other conditions.
The study was conducted in cell cultures and laboratory rats and is the largest to date tracking biochemical changes after the consumption of sugar and sugar substitutes.
For the study, different groups of rats were fed diets high in glucose or fructose (natural sugars) or aspartame or acesulfame potassium (common non-caloric sugar substitutes) for three weeks. The researchers observed significant differences in blood levels of biochemicals, fats, and amino acids. They found that artificial sweeteners change how the body processes fat and produces energy, and that acesulfame potassium accumulates in the blood and may harm cells that line blood vessels.
Studies in the lab or in rats, like this one, are a step along the way to understanding the effects of artificial sweeteners, but it’s going to take more research to determine which is more harmful, sugar or artificial sweeteners.