Over 20 years, a new research team examined people’s regular dietary intake, paying particular attention to non-nutritive sweeteners commonly found in artificial sweeteners. They found that long-term consumption of aspartame, saccharin and diet beverages were linked to increased fat stores in the abdomen and fat within muscle.
“This study showed that habitual, long-term intake of total and individual artificial sweetener intakes are related to greater volumes of adipose tissue, commonly known as body fat,” said Brian Steffen, PhD, MSCR. “This was found even after accounting for other factors, including how much a person eats or the quality of one’s diet.”
The study’s findings raise concerns about the recommendations from the American Diabetes Association and the American Heart Association that promote the replacement of added sugars with artificial sweeteners. Based on their results, the researchers recommend considering alternative approaches, as long-term artificial sweetener consumption may have potential health consequences.
“These findings underscore the importance of finding alternatives to artificial sweeteners in foods and beverages, especially since these added sweeteners may have negative health consequences.” said Lyn Steffen, PhD, MPH, principal investigator on the study.
The researchers emphasize the need for more studies to better understand the connection between artificial sweetener intake and increased body fat. Further research is warranted to explore the underlying mechanisms and gain clearer insights into how dietary habits affect metabolic health.
Brian T. Steffen, David R. Jacobs, So-Yun Yi, Simon J. Lees, James M. Shikany, James G. Terry, Cora E. Lewis, John J. Carr, Xia Zhou, Lyn M. Steffen. Long-term aspartame and saccharin intakes are related to greater volumes of visceral, intermuscular, and subcutaneous adipose tissue: the CARDIA study. International Journal of Obesity, 2023; DOI: 10.1038/s41366-023-01336-y
University of Minnesota Medical School. “Study links long-term artificial sweetener intake to increased body fat adipose tissue volume.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 August 2023. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2023/08/230803213830.htm>.
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