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The great food debate: Do artificial sweeteners promote weight gain?

Let the artificial sweetener debate continue.

Today’s cover story in WNY Refresh, a wire story from Environmental Nutrition Newsletter, lays out some of the pros and cons of using the chemically produced sweeteners – all of them at least 200 times sweeter than sugar – and reports that using them in moderation appears safe.

Still, the scientific debate over these sweeteners – as is the case in food research generally – continues to raise questions and confusion.

Like so many other health- and nutrition-related matters these days, when it comes to what we ingest, all of us have choices to make.

And information like this may not make them any easier:

“We owe the discovery of several artificial sweeteners to a few brave scientists who violated the code of laboratory hygiene and tasted their samples, often inadvertently. Saccharin, the oldest artificial sweetener, was discovered by Constantine Fahlberg at Johns Hopkins in 1879 while working on coal tar derivatives.”

That information comes from a 2010 piece in Neuroscience, which can be found here, at the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine website. The rest of the piece offers more light than that sort of heat. Still, the facts are the facts.

You also may want to take a look at these two overview articles:

  • The story here from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Medicine.
  • And the story here, published last year by The New York Times.

The bottom line seems to be that folks who use artificial sweeteners should do so in moderation, and that more independent research is still needed to determine whether these products impact glucose levels and the intestinal microbiome.


Twitter: @BNrefresh

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