Artificial Sweeteners:
Doing the Opposite of What You Think?

A new study from Purdue University indicates that artificial sweeteners can cause us to gain weight. In this study researchers used two groups of rats.  The first group of rats, Group A, was fed yogurt with sugar in it.  The second group of rats, Group B, was fed yogurt with artificial sweetener in it.  The Group B rats, which ate the artificial sweetener:

  • Consumed more calories
  • Gained more weight
  • Put on more body fat

The researchers concluded several things. One is that when you consume an artificial sweetener, your body expects that you will be consuming something sweet that has calories in it. When the calories arenít there, your body looks for those calories that it missed. This causes you to be hungry and to have cravings. So it is the sweet taste followed by no calories that is the culprit.  The study was done using aspartame which is Sweet and Low, but researchers believe that the same results would hold true for Splenda and Stevia, even though they are natural non-caloric sweeteners.  This is because in all of them there is the sweet taste followed by no calories.

Something else that the researchers discovered is that when we are ready to eat, our metabolism revs up.  When the Group A rats who were being fed sugar were given something high caloric to eat, their metabolism increased and they burned more calories.  When the Group B rats who were accustomed to eating the artificial sweetener yogurt were given the same high caloric food to eat, their metabolism didn't rev up, and they burned fewer calories.  This is because their bodies had grown accustomed to a sweet taste followed by no calories.  So that when they were given something sweet with calories their bodies didn't react naturally.

Artificial sweeteners have been around for a long time.  Scientists are now wondering if the increased use of artificial sweeteners could be one of the causes of the increase in obesity in our country.  The use of artificial sweeteners directly parallels the rise in obesity.

Artificial sweeteners have been looked at for a long time.  One very large study involved 18,000 people over a five to nine year period of time.  This study found that those who drank as little as one diet soda per day gained weight and were at a 30 to 40% more risk of developing a metabolic syndrome such as diabetes.

This is terrible news for those of us who've had weight loss surgery and especially for those who experience dumping. Most of us are dependent upon artificial sweeteners in our diet.  Eliminating artificial sweeteners is not going to be easy.  Just think of all the products that we consume that contain them, such as diet soda, Crystal Light, diet pudding, light yogurt - anything and everything that we can seek out that has fewer calories.

I don't think we can ignore this study.  I think it's important to take a good look at what we eat and how much artificial sweetener we consume.  We can't eliminate artificial sweeteners immediately from our diets, but what we can do is to try to cut back.  Eliminate the diet soda and replace it with water.  If we use two packets of artificial sweetener in our coffee or tea, cut back to one packet.  If we use one packet try to cut down to one half packet.

It won't be easy.  We've become accustomed to an intense sweetness.  Sucralose which is what Splenda is, is 600 times sweeter than table sugar.  Think where you might be able to cut back on artificial sweeteners. That may very well help you to lose more weight or at least to maintain your current weight more easily. 

Good luck!