Dieters who gulp down ‘zero calorie’ drinks full of artificial sweeteners may actually be making themselves fat.
Aspartame, sucralose and stevioside paradoxically cause long-term weight gain and increased risk of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease, according to a new study.
Sugar is blamed for fuelling obesity and yet the long-term impact of the sweeteners was uncertain, said the University of Manitoba study, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
Scientists from the University of Manitoba, Canada, reviewed 37 studies following more than 400,000 people for an average of 10 years to unpick the realities behind artificial sweeteners.
They found that scientific evidence does “not clearly support” its intended weight-loss benefits, one author of the paper, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, said.
Ryan Zarychanski, a professor from the Canadian institution, said: ‘Despite the fact that millions of individuals routinely consume artificial sweeteners, relatively few patients have been included in clinical trials of these products.’
Evidence about the benefits and drawbacks of sweeteners was conflicting, however, the study said.
Lead author Meghan Azad said: ‘Caution is warranted until the long-term health effects of artificial sweeteners are fully characterised.
‘Given the widespread and increasing use of artificial sweeteners, and the current epidemic of obesity and related diseases, more research is needed to determine the long-term risks and benefits of these products.’
But the findings were dismissed by soft drinks industry bosses, who said the no-calorie ingredient had been “deemed safe” by health regulators across the world.