Why Artificial Sweeteners Don’t Make You Thin

by Jo-Ann Heslin, MA, RD, CDN on December 1, 2016 · 0 comments

Millions of people around the world routinely use artificial sweeteners and drink beverages sweetened by them. A new study from Australia attempted to understand what happens in the brain when we eat or drink sweet foods that have no calories.

The study was done on animals but the results may provide hints about how artificial sweeteners work in the body. The researchers identified a system in the brain that connects the sweetness of food with the calories a food provides. When a food is eaten that is sweet but has no calories (energy) the animals ate more food. When the animals were given naturally sweetened foods that had calories, they still ate more than they needed. The researchers believe that the chronic use of artificial sweeteners motivates us to eat more. This is the first time a study actually showed that artificial sweeteners can stimulate appetite. The researchers also found that animals who chronically ate artificial sweeteners had more hyperactivity and insomnia.

More research will be needed to see if this same response happens in humans. One teaspoon of sugar equals 15 calories. Those calories may be a better choice than using artificial sweeteners that could cause us to eat more throughout the day. It does give us something to think about.

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