This is a pretty controversial topic at the moment so it is one I wanted to talk about and give my opinion on. From diet coke to jelly sweets, there are hidden artificial sweeteners in a lot of the food the everyday person consumes regularly. But are they causing us any harm?
The yes argument:
There have been studies which show a correlation between the consumption of artificial sweeteners and enhanced appetite which often leads to increased food consumption. This, consequently, can lead to weight gain.
Studies on the connection between artificial sweeteners and appetite have been undertaken on fruit flies. The flies were fed a sucralose-sweetened (artificially-sweetened) diet for 5 days, which caused an increase in food intake that only returned to normal once sucralose had been removed from the diet. But a question still remained - was this increased food intake due to sweet taste of sucralose itself, or due to an imbalance between sweet taste and the actual energy content of food?
To answer this, the same experiment was then tested with sucrose (normal table sugar). While sucralose increased food intake, sucrose, which also tasted sweet to the flies but contained calories, decreased food intake. This would seem to show that the artificial sweetener increased food intake by creating an imbalance between the sweetness and the caloric value. These results point to the conclusion that separating sweet taste from energy intake increased appetite and food consumption in the trials.
From the studies, I do believe that artificial sweeteners have some negative impact on our weight/health. For example, whilst it's all well and good to try and reduce your sugar consumption, I'm not entirely sure how good it is for us to simply replace sugar with artificial sweeteners - doesn't this kind of defeat the whole point? Whilst it will definitely reduce our calorie consumption from that particular food, we don't know know for definite that it won't increase our appetite overall and therefore lead us to eat more calories from other foods.
My stance on the whole debate is everything in moderation. If you fancy a diet coke every now and again, go for it - it's not going to kill you. But I do think that it is better to eat natural wholefoods the majority of the time. If you are filling yourself up on foods or drinks filled with artificial sweeteners instead of eating a nutritious meal then that is where it becomes a problem. But the occasional treat here or there which contains artificial sweeteners is not going to make you fat or ill (in my opinion).
What do you think? I would love to hear your thoughts on this! Let me know in the comments below :)