Finding hope from conflicting data.
When my husband started drinking diet sodas and using artificial sweeteners (AS) in his coffee, his weight went up. I didn’t think much of it until I attended a Continuing Medical Education (CME) conference for physicians last month on diabetes. There I asked the two endocrinologists who were giving the speech if they knew about a relationship between artificial sweeteners, weight gain, and diabetes. They answered that more studies needed to be done on that subject but that they noted that most of their patients gained weight after they started using artificial sweeteners. This puzzled me.
I decided to dive into 10 years worth of medical literature and research and found intriguing facts:
I found that indeed when people start using artificial sweeteners they don’t lose weight. In fact, when we look at data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination survey and from the USDA economic research service (see the fig. below), we see that from 1980 to about 2000, obesity increased in the USA in correlation with sugar intake but that, since 2000, sugar intake is steadily decreasing and non-caloric artificial sweeteners are increasing every year and yet, the percentage of obese people is continuing to increase at the same rate despite replacing a lot of nutritive sugars by non-nutritive artificial sweeteners.