People generally consume Aspartame, Sucralose, and Stevia believing that they are a ‘healthy choice’ but this may not be true. Aspartame, Sucralose and Stevia are often called nonnutritive sweeteners (NNS). In fact a new study has found mixed evidence to support use of these sweeteners for weight loss. The study also suggests that routine consumption of NNS may be associated with long-term weight gain and an increased risk of heart disease.
Over 40% of adults in American regularly consume Non-Nutritive Sweeteners.
In addition, studies measuring NNS in blood and urine have shown that many people consume these sweeteners in foods without knowing.
There is evidence that routine consumption of NNS may confuse and “reprogram” a person’s metabolism in a way that favors weight gain, insulin resistance, and glucose intolerance.
Another important factor may be due to the fact that consuming NNS may promote a “sweet tooth” or even give a person a sense of “permission” to eat higher-calorie foods because they “saved” on calories with their diet drink.
A recent study published on July 17, 2017 in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ), gathered data from several trials with thousands of participants. The results were inconclusive suggesting both significant weight loss with NNS as well as modest long-term gains in body weight, BMI, and waist circumference. In addition, high NNS intake was associated with higher risks of high blood pressure, stroke, cardiovascular events type 2 diabetes. Expert’s opinion on these conclusions is mixed. Authors of the study are not convinced that these results were unbiased. For example, higher risks of heart disease may be associated with people who are heavier and who are drinking diet soda to make up for their bad eating habits.
The Calorie Control Council, an association representing the low- and reduced-calorie food and beverage industry, said in a statement the study paints low-calorie sweeteners with “too broad a brush” and that the “researchers admit that less than 50% of the cohort studies controlled for ethnicity or socioeconomic status, which are both known risk factors for obesity and cardiometabolic illness.”
The answer to this question is not so simple. Considering the negative effects of artificial sweeteners on the body, it may be a good idea to stay off of them as much as possible. As far as using stevia which is a NNS but natural, the jury is out and again no definite conclusion on its effects on weight.