Not only can artificial sweeteners make you fatter, they can also make you want to eat more, says Body and Soul, Australia.
Originally appearing in news.com.au, the article says that the research was prompted when a professor at the University of Sydney felt extremely hungry after consuming a soft drink sweetened with artificial sweeteners.
The study was conducted on fruit flies, which revealed that they consumed 30% more calories when they fed on food and drinks containing artificial sweeteners. Professor Greg Neely, who started the study said, “In the 2000’s there were human population studies showing there could be these effects, but no-one had modelled it”.
The journal Cell Metabolism published a research on fruit flies that discusses brain activity and its complexities related to ‘reward mechanism’, which could possibly be linked to the weight gaining phenomenon. When the brain measures sweetness coming in from food but sees that it isn’t gaining enough calories, as expected, it is likely to ask for more. In his study, flies that consumed Sucralose were noted to consume 30 per cent more calories.
The research also revealed that these sweeteners promoted mild starvation, hyperactivity insomnia and other activities that can be linked to a condition of fasting. When a fruit fly is starved, its brain won’t allow it to sleep since it feels the need for more calories, which cannot be consumed when asleep. Flies on a sucralose diet experienced a disturbed sleep pattern, as their bodies kept them awake due to calorie deficit.
A similar study was conducted on humans in the 1980s which found that 14% people on an artificial sweetener diet experienced difficulty sleeping. There has been a rise in the percentage of obese people worldwide in the past 30 years. Percentage of obesity has doubled – two major factors behind this are genetics and the environment. Professor Neely said that such a rapid change cannot be attributed only to genetics – there must be something wrong with the environment.
He attributes one of the possible causes behind this change in the environment to the massive use of artificial sweeteners in diet food. The journal Nature published a research in 2014, which said that these sweeteners had the ability to alter the functions of gut bacteria in both men and mice which could possibly lead to obesity. Ironically, these sweeteners could actually be spreading the “epidemic” they were meant to fight. The research also found that the increased consumption of artificial sweeteners corresponded with the spreading of diabetic epidemic and obesity.