Why Low-Calorie Sweeteners Are Making You Fat(ter)

Low-calorie sweeteners are doing the opposite of what you're hoping for!


Have you ever noticed that people who drink diet sodas tend to be the most overweight?

Or is that just me?

At least from what I can tell, the connection between diet sodas and obesity seems to be strong. Before you scoff at my isolated observations, though, let’s check and see what science has to say about it.

It turns out that science agrees: low-calorie sweeteners increase fat formation, according to a recent study out of George Washington University.

Do you know what’s even worse about the findings of this study?

The authors say that artificial sweeteners are even harsher on people that are already obese. Meaning that obese individuals that are using artificial sweeteners to cut back on calories and presumably make good choices for their health are making obesity worse!

Sucralose, the main ingredient in Splenda, seems to be the main culprit.

So how did they find out that sucralose causes fat formation?

Well, researchers took some stem cells from human fat tissue and put them in a petri dish. Next, they applied a little bit of sucralose to them to see what happens.

They applied the sucralose for 12 days in a dose that mimicked blood concentration levels of human consumption.

Two things happened.

First, the stem cells had an increased expression of the genes that are responsible for fat production and inflammation.

Second, the cells had higher fat droplets, which is literally the process of fat formation.

Then, to see how this compared to obese individuals, they gathered fat cell samples from four adults who were obese and four individuals who had a healthy weight. All individuals reported consuming the low-calorie artificial sweetener regularly.

The researchers analyzed these fat samples and compared them to their petri dish fat cells to detect any differences or similarities.

What they found was in line with their petri dish samples: those who consumed artificial sweeteners had an overexpression of the fat producing gene.

And that’s not all. There was also a higher transportation of glucose into the cells. Essentially, artificial sweeteners are doing the exact opposite of what they were intended to do!

The problem? You can’t just stop using Splenda and then safely avoid the fat-forming artificial sweetener’s effects.

Sucralose is in so many things.

It is in diet sodas, baking soda, salad dressings, breakfast cereals and even gum!

Sucralose is everywhere. It’s a shame, really.

The creators of artificial sweeteners probably believed that they were doing people a huge favor when in reality they were just making people huge.


Medical News Today. URL Link. Accessed April 4, 2017.


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Marquis is a freelance writer currently living in Ecuador. She contributes to health blogs as well as writes about her experiences as an expat in Ecuador. Her background is in Psychology but she has left that behind to write, on the road.