Artificial sweeteners don’t do anything for weight loss, a new review states, contradicting the theory that using these gives the same sweetness as sugar, but without the added calories.
Researchers looked at two types of scientific research and found that there is no solid evidence that artificial sweeteners help people with their weight, NPR reports. Other data suggests that people who regularly take sweeteners like aspartame and sucralose are more likely to develop health problems in the future.
Many people use artificial sweeteners. A previous study found that 25% of American kids and 41% of adults reported consuming them, mostly once a day. In addition, people may be eating them unconsciously, in products like yogurt or granola bars.
Meghan Azad, lead author on the review and research scientist at the University of Manitoba, stated, “We were really interested in the everyday person who is consuming these products not to lose weight, but because they think it’s the healthier choice, for many years on end.” While further studies need to be conducted, Azad explained that “there is no clear benefit for weight loss, and there’s a potential association with increased weight gain, diabetes and other negative cardiovascular outcomes.”
The review examined 37 studies on the topic, some of which were randomized trials, while others were observational studies.
The results of the study showed that sweeteners may help with weight loss if they become a one-to-one replacement for sugary drinks or food. Unfortunately, that’s not how these sweeteners are typically used.
There are many theories on why artificial sweeteners may not be good for weight loss or health. They may trigger overcompensation, they might confuse the body, or they may even alter a person’s metabolism.
Azad said that the lack of benefits gathered from the studies and questions about the possible harm artificial sweeteners might cause should give people pause when using them, especially for those who think sweeteners are a healthy alternative to sugar.
The review was published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.