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Are Low Energy Sweeteners aka Artificial Sweeteners OK After All?

Tim Boyer's picture
Diet drinks not responsible for weight gain

Are artificial sweeteners OK after all? A new paper claims that low energy sweeteners aka artificial sweeteners, do not cause an increase appetite.


In a new study published in the International Journal of Obesity, researchers state that the use of low energy sweeteners (LES) in place of sugar, in both children and adults, leads to reduced calorie intake and body weight―and possibly also when comparing LES beverages to water.

This study was founded on the concept that as long as a person maintains their energy balance, i.e. calories consumed do not exceed calories burned, that a person will maintain their body weight. Therefore, if a person consumes low energy sweeteners to help keep their energy balance in check, then there should be no weight gain. However, multiple studies from the past few years suggest that consuming artificial sweeteners actually causes the body to gain weight and trigger diabetes.

Here is a list of fake sugars that some health experts say can kill.

The authors of the new study maintain that these earlier studies came from a subset of animal and observational studies in humans and are not an accurate measure of what is really going on between artificial sweeteners and weight gain. In fact, they state that the currently held hypothesis of artificial sweeteners causing weight gain is “…not supported by the majority of studies with animals, nor by any of the many controlled studies with humans consuming low energy sweeteners for weeks or years.”

The researchers back their new view of artificial sweeteners from data gleaned in a systematic review of relevant studies in animals and humans consuming LES in a non-restricted diet consisting of 12 human prospective cohort studies, 228 comparisons in human intervention studies (short and long-term) and from 90 animal studies.

What the researchers found was that there is no association between drinking beverages sweetened with artificial sweeteners and weight gain; and, that drinking such beverages may actually he helpful for some dieters.

However, the researchers are not saying that drinking an artificially sweetened beverage will lead to weight loss by itself, only that “…using low energy sweeteners is a helpful alternative to caloric sweeteners, to reduce the risk of weight gain or as part of weight loss. “

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“We believe that we should shift the question from whether LES are ‘good’ or ‘bad,’ and rather focus on how they should be best used in practice to help in the achievement of specific public health goals, such as the reduction of intakes of free sugars and energy,” says the study’s lead author Professor Peter Rogers.

For a reminder of some of the opposing views concerning the effect artificial sweeteners have on the human body, here is an informative video from health and diet expert Dr. Joseph Mercola

Related to this issue of artificial sweeteners, here is a recent CBS video that asks if carbonated “fizzy” drinks are really as healthy as its manufacturers would have you believe:

Regardless of your views on artificial sweeteners, no one will disagree that drinking plain water is still the healthiest―and least expensive―way to quench your thirst. Here’s an informative article about an expert who claims that the public is actually being encouraged to drink too much water.


International Journal of Obesity advance online publication 10 November 2015; “Does low-energy sweetener consumption affect energy intake and body weight? A systematic review, including meta-analyses, of the evidence from human and animal studies” P.J. Rogers et al.

Mercola.com “How Artificial Sweeteners Confuse Your Body into Storing Fat and Inducing Diabetes”

CBS News “How healthy is carbonated water?”