The obesity epidemic in the past few years led to people looking for alternatives to sugar. As a result we are inundated with artificial sweeteners around us. Did it help in controlling the obesity epidemic though?
On the contrary, research now shows that artificial sweeteners may actually be the cause of weight gain! It’s high time us ’commoners’ understand this very well once and for all.
Last week I was reading a research paper titled ’“ ’Gain weight by ’going diet?’ Artificial sweeteners and the neurobiology of sugar cravings’, by Qing Yang (paper source PubMed) His paper nicely recaps the history and issues of artificial sweeteners, so I decided to share it with you in this newsletter. Here are the cold facts we all should know:
- We owe the discovery of several artificial sweeteners to a few brave scientists who violated the code of laboratory hygiene and tasted their samples, often inadvertently.
- Saccharin, the oldest artificial sweetener, was discovered in 1879 while working on coal tar derivatives. It became the go to sweetener for diabetics!
- A sugar shortage during World War II and shift of esthetics toward favoring a thin figure encouraged women to turn to artificial substitutes as well.
- Around this time, the wording on diet soda bottles subtly changed from ’for use only in people who must limit sugar intake’ to ’for use in people who desire to limit sugar intake’.
- As concerns about saccharin’s safety in relation to cancer intensified, FDA announced its intention to ban saccharin in 1977. However, consumer protests led to a moratorium from Congress on the final ban decision. A warning label was nonetheless required on all saccharin products.
- Artificial Sweetener Comparisons:
- Saccharin is about 300 times sweeter than sucrose but has a bitter aftertaste.
- Aspartame is about 200 times sweeter than sucrose. (It was discovered while trying to make ulcer drugs).
- Monsanto bought the parent company of aspartame and converted it to NutraSweet in 1984.
- Neotame is the most potent sweetener on the market, at 7,000 times the sweetness of sucrose
So now onto the important question we began with’….
Do artificial sweeteners affect weight?
- As per Yang’s report, several large scale studies found positive correlation between artificial sweetener use and weight gain.
- It is generally found that sweet taste, whether delivered by sugar or artificial sweeteners, enhanced human appetite. This would mean excess calorie consumption!
- Aspartame also increased hunger ratings compared to glucose or water.
What drives the desire to eat?
Food reward shares brain circuitry with other pleasurable activities such as sex and drug administration. It also shares the same behavioral paradigm with other forms of addiction: binging, withdrawal, craving, and cross-sensitization. Artificial sweeteners do not activate the food reward pathways in the same fashion as natural sweeteners.
Artificial sweeteners, precisely because they are sweet, encourage sugar craving and sugar dependence. Repeated exposure trains flavor preference making us want more and more of them.
I should conclude by quoting what Yang said so well in his article:
Unsweetening the world’s diet may be the key to reversing the obesity epidemic.
Are you on board with me on this one?
I specialise is sugar cravings and binge eating. Been there, done that; and am more than ready to help you on your journey to kick those sugar cravings for good.
Call 778.322.5670 FREE or email firstname.lastname@example.org now to find out how.