Diets drinks may not be healthier, new research suggests.
Artificial sweeteners, such as the controversial aspartame, are still linked to obesity and diabetes, a study found.
Previous research suggests zero-calorie sugar substitutes damage people’s blood vessels, increasing their risk of stroke and dementia.
Speaking of the current study’s findings, lead author Dr Brian Hoffmann, from Marquette University, Milwaukee, said: ‘It is not as simple as ‘stop using artificial sweeteners’ being the key to solving overall health outcomes related to diabetes and obesity.
‘As with other dietary components, I like to tell people moderation is the key if one finds it hard to completely cut something out of their diet.’
More than 29 million adults in the US, and one in 17 in the UK, have diabetes.
Diets drinks may not be healthier as research links artificial sweeteners to diabetes (stock)
DOES WATCHING TELEVISION INCREASE CHILDREN’S RISK OF DEVELOPING DIABETES?
Watching television for three or more hours a day may increase a child’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes, research suggested in July 2017.
Children who spend at least three hours in front of a screen are heavier and have greater insulin resistance, a study found. Both of these are risk factors for the condition.
Such youngsters also produce impaired amounts of the hormone leptin, the research adds. Leptin is involved in regulating appetite.
These results remained even after the study’s participant’s activity levels were taken into account, the study found.
Study author Dr Claire Nightingale from St George’s, University of London, said: ‘Our findings suggest that reducing screen time may be beneficial in reducing type 2 diabetes risk factors, in both boys and girls, from an early age.
‘This is particularly relevant, given rising levels of type 2 diabetes, the early emergence of type 2 diabetes risk, and recent trends suggesting screen-related activities are increasing in childhood.’
The researchers analysed 4,495 children aged between nine and 10 years old.
The children were assessed for factors that influence their risk of developing diabetes.
Their body proportions, activity levels and the amount of time they spend in front of a screen – either watching television or using a computer – every day were also recorded.
‘Both sugar and artificial sweeteners exhibit negative effects’
Speaking of the findings, Dr Hoffmann said: ‘Both sugar and artificial sweeteners seem to exhibit negative effects linked to obesity and diabetes.
‘We observed that in moderation, your body has the machinery to handle sugar; it is when the system is overloaded over a long period of time that this machinery breaks down.
‘We also observed that replacing these sugars with non-caloric artificial sweeteners leads to negative changes in fat and energy metabolism.
‘If you chronically consume these foreign substances (as with sugar) the risk of negative health outcomes increases.’
Results further suggest the artifical sweetener acesulfame potassium accumulates in blood, with high levels harming the cells that line vessels.
The researchers fed different groups of rats either glucose or fructose, which are both types of sugar, or artificial sweeteners aspartame or acesulfame potassium.
After three weeks, the rodents’ blood vessel linings were analysed.
The findings will be presented at the American Physiological Society annual meeting in San Diego.
‘Sweeteners have been approved by all leading health global authorities for decades’
Speaking of the findings, a spokesperson from the British Soft Drinks Association, said: ‘This small piece of US research was not conducted on humans; but instead on rats (and rat body cells) that were genetically modified to be susceptible to diabetes.
‘The rats were fed high levels of sweeteners, which are not representative of the EU safe limits of sweeteners imposed for human consumption.
‘In the EU, we already have strict testing of all sweeteners used in our foods, as well as safe limits of consumption referenced above.
‘The majority of people who use sweeteners are well within the safe limits, especially for aspartame.
‘Sweeteners have been approved by all leading health global authorities for decades, as well as Cancer Research UK and Diabetes UK.
They added: ‘Public Health England publicly endorses the use of low calorie sweeteners as a safe alternative to reduce sugar in food and drink and to help people manage their weight.
‘It is worth noting that lead author of this research, Dr Brian Hoffman, admitted that more research needed to be done and that only people that consumed artificial sweeteners in excess should be concerned.’
Previous research suggests large breakfasts and small dinners may combat diabetes (stock)