Artificial sweeteners are all the rage. The products — which add a subtle, sugary flavor to coffee, soda or baked goods — are favored by those looking to cut the calories (and, in turn, the fat). They are also used by individuals with diabetes and/or other medical conditions. But a new study found these sugarless products may not be as good as we initially thought. In fact, sugar-free sweeteners offer no health benefits.
The study, conducted by researchers in Europe and published in The British Journal of Medicine, came about after many individuals began adopting “healthier” lifestyles devoid of sugars, salt and fat. And while limiting these items is beneficial, replacing sugar with non-sugar sweeteners is not.
According to a statement, there were “no statistically or clinically relevant differences between those exposed to non-sugar sweeteners and those not exposed, or between different doses of non-sugar sweeteners.”
What’s more, little is known about the dangers of artificial sweeteners and/or the potential harms.
For example, in adults, there was little to no evidence these sweeteners improved one’s body mass index or fasting blood glucose level. In children, the opposite was observed: a small increase in body mass index was seen. And when it comes to weight loss, there was no proof these sugar-free products helped overweight or obese individuals slim down.
It is important to note that researchers stressed the quality of the evidence used in this study was low — and confidence in their results is limited at best. In other words, additional research is necessary. However, Dr. Vasanti Malik, a research scientist at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said in a statement that she believes more information will mean more change.
“Policies and recommendations will need updating regularly, as more evidence emerges to ensure that the best available data is used to inform the important public health debate on sugar and its alternatives,” Malik added.
In the meantime, maybe consider replacing that midday Diet Coke with a can of seltzer or sparkling water. It couldn’t hurt.