New Research Shows Artificial Sweeteners Don't Help You Lose Weight

Put down the can of diet soda.

July 17, 2017
artificial sweetener packets
Tetra Images/getty

This should come as no surprise: commercial artificial sweeteners, most often derived from aspartame, sucralose and stevioside, are not good for you. They're called "non-nutritive" for a reason—find out more about why they aren't healthy and which ones you should especially avoid

But a scientific review recently found that on top of being generally unhealthy, artificial sweeteners also don't help you lose weight—the reason many people opt for "diet" versions of popular snacks and drinks in the first place.


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A review of several scientific studies, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, found that artificial sweeteners do not support weight management, and also that "routine intake of nonnutritive sweeteners may be associated with increased BMI and cardiometabolic risk." They weren't able to determine if these increased health risks were from using the artificial sweeteners, or were just associated with people who use them. 

Related: How To Bake With 12 Natural Sugar Substitutes

This news is important to consider, since another study found that 25% of U.S. children and 41% of adults reported consuming them as often as once per day. Often people don't even realize they are eating artificial sweeteners, as they are hidden in common items like yogurts and granola bars, as well as more obviously present in iced teas and diet sodas. (Here are 7 healthy swaps for junk food snacks.)

The best plan? Cut down on sugar

sugar coming out of a soda can


The studies are not conclusive, so a minimal, or very structured, use of artificial sweeteners shouldn't set off any major health alarms, and could even be helpful with weight loss: "The available evidence suggests that sweeteners may help with weight loss if they are carefully used as a one-to-one replacement for sugar-sweetened drinks or foods as part of a structured weight-loss program," Allison Sylvetsky Meni, an assistant professor at George Washington University told NPR.

However, sweeteners are rarely used this way, and are most often overused on an almost daily basis as quick-fix. (Here are the 7 hidden dangers of using artificial sweeteners.)

Related: 6 Things That Happened When I Stopped Eating Sugar

So, yes: artificial sweeteners should be ditched from (or at least minimized in) your diet. But the bigger problem at stake is a common addiction to all types of sweeteners. Too much sugar, natural or artificial, is tough on your body and your heart, and the quicker you can train your palate away from the expectation of constant sugar-intake, the better. Here are 19 ways to give up sugar that you can start working on today. 

The open secret to better health? The more you cut down on sugar in your diet, the less likely you will be to crave it on a regular basis, and the healthier you'll be. 

Tags: nutrition