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Nonnutritive Sweeteners (NNSs) May Cause Weight Gain

Filed Under: Diet & Weight Loss,Health Concerns & Ailments,Health Foods at 3:09 pm | By: Kim McCorkell, Senior Editor
Woman on a scale

Think your diet soda will help prevent weight gain? Think again.

Nonnutritive sweeteners (NNSs), including artificial sweeteners, can be found in beverages, yogurt, snacks like popcorn or granola bars, and even cereals. But are they helping? More and more studies are reporting that regular consumption of NNSs may actually lead to weight gain, including this recent study by Elsevier.

Researchers conducted a 12-week study with 29 male Wistar rats, divided into three groups. The rats were fed chow food, plus yogurt sweetened with either saccharin, aspartame or sucrose, depending on the group they belonged to. Caloric intake and exercise was monitored closely and equally balanced for each rat.

By the end of the study, weight gain was significantly higher for the rats fed a diet supplemented with NNS (saccharin and aspartame), when compared to the rats whose diet was supplemented with sucrose. Possible reasons why – including references to previous studies, included:

  • Ingesting glucose stimulates heat production in the body, which can signal the gut to start absorbing nutrients. Non-sweetened fluid doesn’t have this effect on the body.
  • Hyperinsulinemia (occurs when there’s a higher level of insulin in your blood than normal) may be induced by using saccharin. As a result, the body may block potassium absorption and the regulation of insulin secretion.
  • Fluid intake and retention may be higher due to the sodium content in saccharin (less likely because of similar weight gain in aspartame group).

What’s your gut telling you? Do you think NNSs are helpful or hurtful? Do you favor lower calorie foods and beverages for weight loss, or stick to natural sweeteners?

Source: Food Production Daily
Appetite, Volume 60, Pages 203-207, doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2012.10.009
“Saccharin and aspartame, compared with sucrose, induce greater weight gain in adult Wistar rats, at similar total caloric intake levels”
Authors: Fernanda de Matos Feijó, Cíntia Reis Ballard, Kelly Carraro Foletto, Bruna Aparecida Melo Batisa, et al

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