Aspartame and Weight Gain
Contrary to popular belief, aspartame may not actually help you stay fit but rather cause weight gain, facts according to recent studies. This sugar substitute is found in many foods and beverages. Often, food products that use this artificial sweetener are marketed as “diet” or “low-calorie”, but how true are these claims?
What Studies Say?
A study which has been presented at a meeting of the American Diabetes Association suggests that consuming diet soda with aspartame can result in wider waist in humans and can potentially raise blood sugars.
According to a study researcher, Helen P. Hazuda, Ph.D. of the University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio’s School of Medicine, the promotion of artificial sweeteners and diet sodas as healthy alternatives may be ill-advised. She stressed that while these products may not contain calories, they are not free of consequences.
In one of the studies, researchers collected data about the weight, height, waist circumference, and diet soda intake of 474 elderly people who were also participants of the San Antonio Longitudinal Study of Aging. The participants were followed up after an average of 9.5 years.
Data show that those who consume diet soda have waist circumferences increases of up to 70 percent more than those who did not have soda drinks in their diet. Those with heavy consumption of diet soda (at least 2 a day) had a 500 percent increase in their waist circumference compared to those who did not have soda drinks in their diet.
A different study has shown that artificial sweeteners do not likely produce better results in mice. The study further showed that diabetes-prone mice which were fed with aspartame for three months had higher blood sugar levels compared to those which were not given aspartame.
Another study conducted by UK researchers suggests that aspartame-containing foods tend to dull the taste buds which can lead the consumer to crave for more sweet foods. Similarly, since aspartame lacks energy, the body will have the natural desire to take more energy by consuming more foods. Of course, this can lead to an increase in calorie intake which translates into added weight. There are also earlier studies that link binge eating with diet sodas which likewise increases the chances of weight gain, even obesity.
On the other hand, there is a great amount of resources that support aspartame as a possible alternative to regular table sugar for people who want to prevent or control weight gain. In a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, use of aspartame as part of a weight control program can significantly help manage weight. Furthermore, the study did not note any adverse effects including weight gain. The FDA has also consistently reaffirmed the safety of aspartame and has not provided any indication as to the possibility of weight gain.