For decades now, there has been widespread demand for artificial sweeteners as sugar substitutes for their beneficial effects, both among people grappling with weight issues and diabetic patients. However, a recent study seeks to offer evidence that the consumption of various sugar substitutes may actually be counterproductive for them, as these amplifies the risk of developing type-2 diabetes.
The study, though small with the results contestable among the medical fraternity, espouses several earlier studies that linked the negative bearing of artificial sweeteners on weight gain and in impairing glucose tolerance among healthy populations.
The incidence and prevalence of type-2 diabetes have increased dramatically in recent years, with obesity being a prominent risk factor for the mortality from the disease, hence the need for controlling the risk factors is more intense than ever.
Sustained Consumption of Artificial Sweeteners May Elevate Post-Meal Glucose Levels
The investigators wanted to assess the impact of the large consumption of no-calorie artificial sweeteners among populations on the levels of glucose in the blood.
- 27 healthy volunteers were enrolled for the experiment and researchers gave them two capsules equivalent to around 1.5 liters of diet drink a day.
- These capsules contained two different sweeteners and the subjects were asked to take these three times a day before meals. The control group was given placebos.
- After two weeks, the authors of the study observed that the body’s response was noticeably impaired. They concluded that the intake of artificial sweeteners accounted for elevated post-meal glucose levels in high habitual non-caloric artificial sweeteners (NAS) users, increasing their risk to type-2 diabetes.
- Larger and Robust Trials Needed for Results to be Reliable
The results are largely disputed among researchers and the interpretation was open to discussion among clinicians.
Skeptics are wary that pinpointing artificial sweeteners as the possible culprit in the lack of glucose management in NAS users is nothing more than premature.
Since the incidence of type-2 diabetes is influenced by a variety of external and genetic factors, the correlations of which are yet not fully understood, the detrimental effect of artificial sweeteners may be restricted to a narrow population set.
Some diabetic research institutes also question the veracity of claims, reiterating the need for larger trials. For now, artificial sweeteners can be a viable option for reducing sugar intake among patients.