01 Feb Sweet Taste of Diet Soda May Raise Risk of Diabetes
MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Marta Yanina Pepino, PhD
Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition
Division of Nutritional Sciences
College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences Administration
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Urbana, IL 61801
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: There is a general belief that substituting sugars with low calorie sweeteners contributes to diet healthfulness. However, accumulating data suggest that consuming a diet high in low calorie sweeteners , mainly in diet sodas, is associated with the same health issues than consuming a diet high in added sugars, including an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The potential mechanism underlying such association are varied and still unclear. Our findings contribute to the growing evidence that despite having very little or no calories, sweeteners can affect our metabolism (i.e. the way we handle blood sugar) and that their effects may be different in people with obesity from those of normal weight.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: I think the most important message is to start increasing our awareness on the potential importance of sweet taste beyond calories. Our data are both provocative and intriguing, as we still do not understand the specific mechanism underlying the acute effects we observed from tasting or consuming sucralose before undergoing a glucose tolerance test. At the same time, they suggest a fact that should not come as a surprise: sweet taste signaling might be important for metabolism. Evolution shaped sweet taste as one of the most powerful natural rewards- our attraction for sweetness is innate, and we know that sugars are much more than calories. For example, in babies, sweet taste is a good painkiller, so we should think on potential effects of artificial sweeteners beyond calories too. Drinking diet soda all day because it has no calories cannot be the same than drinking water all day.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?
Response: Our study focused on a very particular population: adults without diabetes and who were non habitual users of low calorie sweeteners. As it is the case with findings from most research studies, our findings generated more questions than answers, but they suggest that we should not extrapolate results on effects of low calorie sweeteners in people with normal weight to those with obesity. More research is needed on potential metabolic effects of sweeteners in regular consumers of low calorie sweeteners, in people with diabetes, and in the pediatric population (who loves sweetness even more than adults do!).
Thank you for your interest in our research!
Nutrients. 2019 Dec 20;12(1). pii: E29. doi: 10.3390/nu12010029.
Effects of Sucralose Ingestion versus Sucralose Taste on Metabolic Responses to an Oral Glucose Tolerance Test in Participants with Normal Weight and Obesity: A Randomized Crossover Trial.
Nichol AD, Salame C, Rother KI, Pepino MY
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