Lisa Says: Comprehensive article from Harvard Medical School on multiple concerns with chemical or artifical sweeteners. One part quite compelling was not just concern over safety, but, “daily consumption of diet drinks was associated with a 36% greater risk for metabolic syndrome and a 67% increased risk for type 2 diabetes. Aren’t these diseases that artificial sweeteners may help prevent in the first place?” Enjoy the article.
Artificial sweeteners: sugar-free, but at what cost?
Posted July 16, 2012, 1:28 pm Holly Strawbridge, Executive Editor, Harvard Heart Letter
By offering the taste of sweetness without any calories, artificial sweeteners seem like they could be one answer to effective weight loss. The average 12-ounce can of sugar-sweetened soda delivers about 150 calories, almost all of them from sugar. The same amount of diet soda—zero calories. The choice seems like a no-brainer.
The American Heart Association (AHA) and American Diabetes Association (ADA) have given a cautious nod to the use of artificial sweeteners in place of sugar to combat obesity, metabolic syndrome, and diabetes, all risk factors for heart disease. (You can read the full statement here.)
“While they are not magic bullets, smart use of non-nutritive sweeteners could help you reduce added sugars in your diet, therefore lowering the number of calories you eat. Reducing calories could help you attain and maintain a healthy body weight, and thereby lower your risk of heart disease and diabetes,” said Dr. Christopher Gardner, an associate professor of medicine at Stanford University in California, in a press release accompanying the scientific statement.
As with everything, there’s more to the artificial sweetener story than their effect on weight. To learn more about them, I spoke with Dr. David Ludwig, an obesity and weight-loss specialist at Harvard-affiliated Boston Children’s Hospital. He has a keen interest in products designed to help people lose weight at keep it off. And what he has learned about artificial sweeteners worries him.