The drinks ‘zero’ , low in calories , which are typically included in weight loss diets , could have the opposite effect: increased caloric intake . This is established by a study prepared by researchers at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California (USC).
According to it, drinks that contain the artificial sweetener sucralose could increase food cravings and appetite in women and in people with obesity.
The Sucralose is an artificial sweetener nutritive functions, only apparatus sweetness. For this reason, it is used in drinks that are less caloric, but that maintain the sweet taste.
The study, published in JAMA Netwotk Open , is one of the most comprehensive to date examining the effects of an artificial sweetener on brain activity and appetite responses in different segments of the population.
The controversy over artificial sweeteners
More than 40% of US adults eat low-calorie foods or beverages sweetened with sweeteners, especially when they are losing weight. Despite their prevalence, the health consequences of artificial sweeteners are still up for debate and there is no clear consensus on their effects on appetite , glucose , metabolism, and body weight .
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“There is controversy over the use of artificial sweeteners because many people use them to lose weight . While some studies say they can be helpful, others say they can contribute to weight gain, type 2 diabetes, and other metabolic problems. Our study investigated Different population groups find out the reasons behind these conflicting results, “explains Kathleen Page , one of the study’s authors.
To analyze the effects of sweeteners, Page and his colleagues recruited 74 participants, who consumed 300 milliliters of low-calorie drinks with sweeteners on three different lab visits. Within two hours of each visit, the researchers measured three factors: activation of brain regions responsible for appetite and food cravings in response to images of high-calorie foods like a hamburger or donut ; the levels of glucose, insulin and other metabolic hormones in the blood; the amount of food consumed in an all-you-can-eat buffet that participants had access to at the end of each session.
The participants were divided into the same number of men and women, who differed in their weight: adequate , overweight and obese . This allowed the researchers to determine potential differences between different population groups.
Artificial sweeteners can make you hungrier
Imaging studies showed increased activity in brain regions that are responsible for food cravings and appetite in both women and people with obesity after consuming sucralose diet drinks, compared to drinks containing real sugar.
The study also showed a general decrease in the levels of hormones that tell the body that it is “full” after the participants drank the sucralose beverages, compared to beverages with sucrose, or table sugar. This suggests that artificially sweetened beverages may not be effective in suppressing hunger.
Finally, after the participating women drank the drink with sucrasola, they ate more food from the buffet compared to the intake produced after drinking the sugary drink. In the case of men, the intake did not vary.
“Our study begins to provide context on the mixed results of previous studies regarding the behavioral and neural effects of artificial sweeteners, for women and people with obesity, drinking beverages with these sweeteners could make the brain feel hungry , which could lead to higher calorie intake, “concludes Page.