Does the artificial sweetener Splenda cause weight gain? Find out what a new study shows about artificial sweeteners and the effect they have on body fat.
Artificial sweeteners are a topic of controversy. The FDA insists that sweeteners such as Splenda are safe, but a significant portion of the public remains unconvinced – and for a good reason.
Despite the fact that Splenda is almost calorie-free, animal studies have suggested it causes weight gain and raises blood sugar levels by increasing glucose absorption in the small intestine and by altering levels of intestinal hormones that suppress appetite. Now a new study in humans shows that Splenda may not cause weight gain in humans after all. Splenda lovers can breathe a sigh of relief.
Splenda and Weight Gain: Does It or Doesn’t It?
In a study published in Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology, researchers gave ten young adults either sucralose (Splenda) or glucose and its analog (3- OMG) by a catheter that was placed directly into the small intestine. A control group received only a saline solution. What did they find? There was no difference in blood glucose levels or the appetite-suppressing hormone GLP-1 between the three groups.
Keep in mind that previous studies on Splenda and weight gain were made on animals, and the effects could be different than in humans. This human study, although small, showed that human intestines might process artificial sweeteners such as sucralose differently than animal intestines do. Another recent study was done on children also showed no association between artificial sweeteners and weight gain or changes in blood sugar levels.
Artificial Sweeteners and Weight Gain
Previous animal studies did find an association between some artificial sweeteners and weight gain, which researchers attributed to the fact that artificial sweeteners have the taste of sweet, but when the calories don’t follow, the brain perceives a “mismatch” and fails to turn off hunger signals. This leads to the desire to keep eating more sweet foods.
Splenda and Weight Gain: Is It Okay to Use It?
Whether or not Splenda causes weight gain in humans, it’s a good idea to cut back on Splenda and other artificial sweeteners. Despite the fact that studies show that they’re safe, some people believe they make certain conditions such as migraines worse, and in some users, they cause bloating and intestinal upset.
To add a little sweetness to food, use fruit purees, fruit butter without added sugar, or a natural sweetener such as stevia. Stevia is carbohydrate and calorie-free, but buy the unprocessed kind; it’s all-natural.