Recent research concluded that diet sweeteners increase fat deposits in overweight people. Even if promoted as a low-calorie alternative to sugar, artificial sweeteners should not be consumed in large quantities, due to unforgiving side effects.


Diet sweeteners can be up to 650 times sweeter than sugar.
Photo: Marco Verch / Visualhunt


There is an interesting study, conducted at the University of Washington D.C. by Dr. Sabyasachi Sen and his team, that show side effects of one of the most common sugar replacements: sucralose. It is promoted as a healthy version to satisfy one’s need for sweet. However, the key is in the quantity and there is little talk about the amounts of sweeteners that can be consumed with little to no effect on the body’s well-functioning.

Dr. Sen’s research, presented at the annual meeting of the Endocrine Society this year, sheds light on the matter. Sucralose has zero calories and is found in a number of diet products – sodas, baking mixes, cereals – or sold as sugar replacement (Splenda).

The scientific approach on the diet sweeteners aimed to discover the effects that its consumption has on the metabolism. For the study, the scientists obtained stem cells derived from fat tissue, which they exposed to sucralose for 12 days in a row. As noted previously, the key is in the quantity. So, they have used a dose of 0.2 millimolars which, for those of us regular readers, equals the same sugar-in-blood concentration that you have if you drink 4 cans of diet soda per day.

A person can easily drink 4 cans of soda throughout the day, without considering it a sugar abuse. The study showed the fat cells exposed to sucralose have increased the accumulation of fat droplets. This means that if an overweight person drinks 4 cans of diet soda per day, in about 2 weeks, he/she will be adding weight without eating or drinking more.

Scientists say that multiplying the cells in the fat tissue becomes alarming at 1 millimolar per day – which would be the equivalent of 20 cans.

Another testing done was comparing the abdominal fat of normal weight people with that of overweight people, in the case where both types were consuming diet sweeteners regularly (sucralose and aspartame). Their samples were compared to those of people who, no matter the body weight, did not use sweeteners. Findings showed n increase in the transportation of glucose into cells and an overexpression of genes associated with fat production. The strongest bad effects were observed on obese people who consumed sweeteners.