Artificial Sweeteners May Raise Diabetes Risk
Written by Editor   
Tuesday, September 23, 2014 05:00 PM

Consumption of noncaloric artificial sweeteners appeared to induce glucose intolerance in both mice and humans by altering gut microbiota in a series of experiments conducted by researchers in Israel.

Rather than helping to prevent obesity and metabolic disease, use of noncalorie sweeteners may have contributed to the epidemic rise of these conditions.

Five no-calorie or low-calorie artificial sweeteners -- saccharin, sucralose, aspartame, neotame and acesulfame K -- are approved for use in the U.S. by the FDA and sweeteners derived from the Stevia plant extract Reb-A have been designated "generally recognized as safe."

Researchers noted that most noncaloric artificial sweeteners (NAS) pass through the human gastrointestinal tract without being digested, so they directly encounter intestinal microbiota. "Microbiota compositions and function are modulated by diet in the healthy lean state as well as in obesity and diabetes mellitus, and in turn microbiota alterations have been associated with propensity to metabolic syndrome," the authors wrote.  

"Taken together, these results suggest that NAS promote metabolic derangements in a range of formulations, doses, mouse strains, and diets paralleling human conditions, in both the lean and the obese state," the researchers wrote.

Earlier research suggests people who eat large amounts of artificial sweeteners have higher incidences of obesity and diabetes. The new research, he said, suggests there may be a causal link.

"This was a very thorough and carefully done study, and I think the message to people who use artificial sweeteners is they need to use them in moderation," he said. "Drinking 17 diet sodas a day is probably a bad idea, but one or two may be OK."