Artificial sweeteners have become common replacements for sugar in order to avoid diabetes, obesity, and metabolic syndrome. There are many forms available on the market such as aspartame and saccharin. The reason that they are so widely used in foods is that a small amount packs a sweeter taste than sugar. And so the idea is that there are fewer calories per drink/food. However, there are possible side effects and unknown effects of consuming artificial sweeteners.
Using artificial sweeteners can actually be counterproductive. If people are continuously exposed to intense sweetness, they may find natural sugars unappealing. Similarly, they may prevent us from associating sweetness with caloric intake. This then means that people turn away from natural sugars and go for foods that are more artificial and less healthy, and gain weight.
The FDA has mostly ruled out the risk for cancer. However, those studies were done using far smaller amounts of diet soda than the usual amount consumed by many people who drink diet soda.
We don’t fully know the effect that artificial sweeteners will cause over the years.
And there are other health concerns besides cancer. Daily consumption of diet drinks was linked to a 36% greater risk for metabolic syndrome and a 67% increased risk for type 2 diabetes. But these are quite literally the diseases that are supposed to be prevented by artificial sweeteners. It can also cause type 2 diabetes and hypertension.
But none of these diseases are proven to be caused by artificial sweeteners, it’s just suggestive evidence. Regardless, the consumption and production of artificial sweeteners have been continuously increasing. (medicaldaily.com) The overall message from these studies and claims is that although we shouldn’t completely ditch artificial sugars, we should be careful about how much we consume.
“The current public health message to limit the intake of sugars needs to be expanded to limit intake of all sweeteners, not just sugars,” – Susan E. Swithers