London- Artificial sweeteners or sugar alternatives added to dozens of food and medical products, from cough syrups sold without a medical prescription, to sugar-free diet cokes, may cause weight gain, according to a recent study.
The study said consuming drinks with artificial sugar can lead to a higher risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, and hypertension. In the study that analyzed artificial sweeteners, researchers from the University of Manitoba in Canada examined results of 37 studies that followed over 400,000 people over 10 years.
Meghan Azad, the lead author of the review, said: “This study found a strong link between the consumption of artificial sweeteners and an increased risk of diabetes, heart diseases, along with weight gain.”
Companies producing soft drinks point out that the artificial sweeteners are approved safe by health authorities, including the US Food and Drug Administration. Those sweeteners containing limited number of calories are made to mimic sugar. Many products are known as “diet coke” due to their role in diets targeting weight loss.
Commenting on the results of the study published in the Canadian Medical Journal, Assistant Professor Dr. Ryan Zarychanski said: “Despite the fact that millions of individuals routinely consume artificial sweeteners, relatively few patients have been included in clinical trials of these products.”
Dr. Azad added: “Caution is warranted until the long-term health effects of artificial sweeteners are fully characterized.”