LIFESTYLE

How Low-Calorie Sweeteners Could Actually Be Making You Gain Weight

They've been linked to increased obesity risk.

09/01/2017 12:59 SAST | Updated 09/01/2017 12:59 SAST

People who use sweeteners to keep trim could actually be making far more work for themselves.

That’s according to a new study which found people who used low-calorie sweeteners in their diets were more likely to gain weight than non-users.

After 10 years of having their diets monitored, those who used sweeteners were found to have, on average, a 2.6cm larger waist circumference than those who didn’t and a greater risk of developing obesity.

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The study monitored the body weight and diet of 1,454 participants (741 men and 713 women), whose data was collected through the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Ageing from 1984 to 2012.

Roughly 669 participants were low-calorie sweetener users, and 785 didn’t use sweeteners.

They found that people who used low-calorie sweeteners in their diet weighed more, had a larger waistline and greater risk of obesity than those who didn’t use them.

“Low-calorie sweetener use is independently associated with heavier relative weight, a larger waist, and a higher prevalence and incidence of abdominal obesity suggesting that low-calorie sweetener use may not be an effective means of weight control,” they concluded.

Experts said there’s a possibility that sweetener could alter our metabolism, encouraging it to lay down more abdominal fat. However they added that more research is needed establish this.

It’s not the first time sweeteners have come under scrutiny. A study published in December suggested that diet soft drinks, which contain non-nutritive sweeteners (NNS), do not actually aid weight loss. 

Researchers looked into the impact of NNS such as stevia, monk fruit and aspartame, which are becoming increasingly popular in soft drinks. 

They found that participants tended to eat more food after consuming NNS-based drinks, compared to regular sugar-based soft drinks. 

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