x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Food for thought: sugar alternatives

Artificial sweeteners may not be as harmless as many of us believe.

Artificial sweetener. iStockphoto.com
Artificial sweetener. iStockphoto.com

Fake sugar alternatives such as artificial sweeteners could be doing your waistline more harm than good.

In a bid to cut calories and lose weight, many turn to artificial sweeteners in place of the real thing. Tea and coffee are the most likely recipients of these low-calorie “fake” sugars as we try to get that little bit of sweetness without the supposed weighty effects of the white stuff. Although many people have made the switch to naturally brown sugars, the sweetener option continues to be very popular.

Artificial sweeteners are chemically manufactured products that duplicate the taste of sugar; saccharine, aspartame, acesulfame K and sucralose are the most common.

Despite numerous human studies and approval from the World Heath Organisation, there is a wealth of evidence that highlights the negative effects of consuming such man-made products. It does seem to be quite logical, given the natural character of the human body, that digesting man-made, unnatural products could prove to be a toxic experience.

While health scares haven’t deterred our appetite for sweeteners, what does get our attention is a matter apparently closer to our heart. Weight loss is the main motivation for using artificial sweeteners in place of sugar during calorie-cutting endeavours, making this latest research a hot topic.

A new study led by Dr Marcello Casaccia Bertoluci from the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, presents evidence that in fact the use of sweeteners could lead to increases in your weight.

The study examined 29 rats who were fed with the addition of either natural sucrose or artificial sweeteners, keeping their calorie intake the same between the two groups. Over 12 weeks the data showed “significantly greater weight gain among rats fed diets supplemented with artificial sweeteners than sucrose”.

This isn’t the first study to publish such results but, while additional research is necessary, it does seem that relying on artificial sweeteners in a weight-loss regime could be detrimental to your success and actually induce weight gain!

White sugar certainly isn’t helpful either for weight loss, but keeping it natural with honey or agave are far better alternatives than the artificial chemicals.


Laura Holland is a well-being consultant and nutritional therapist. For more information, visit www.BeUtifulYou.co.uk