MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Meghan Azad PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics & Child Health and Community Health Sciences, University of Manitoba; Associate Investigator, Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development (CHILD) Study
Research Scientist, Children’s Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba; co-Lead, Population Health Pillar, Developmental Origins of Chronic Diseases in Children Network
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?
Response: Consumption of artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame, sucralose and stevia, is widespread and increasing. Emerging data indicate that artificial, or non-nutritive, sweeteners may have negative effects on metabolism, gut bacteria and appetite, although the evidence is conflicting.
MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?
Response: We conducted a systematic review of 37 studies that collectively followed over 400,000 people for an average of 10 years.
Only 7 of these studies were randomized clinical trials (the gold standard in clinical research), involving 1003 people followed for 6 months on average. The trials did not show a consistent effect of artificial sweeteners on weight loss, and the longer observational studies showed a link between consumption of artificial sweeteners and relatively higher risks of weight gain and obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and other health issues.
MedicalResearch.com: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?
Response: There is a lack of high-quality evidence on the long term effects of routine artificial sweetener consumption. Currently, data from clinical trials do not clearly support the intended benefits of artificial sweeteners for weight management, and observational studies suggest an association with increased body mass index and cardiometabolic risk. Further research is needed to fully characterize the long-term risks and benefits of artificial sweeteners.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Response: More research is needed to confirm and evaluate the long-term effects of routine artificial sweetener consumption in the general population, and specific ‘high risk’ groups (for example, pregnant women and children). If causality is established, it will be important to determine the biological mechanisms involved.
MedicalResearch.com: Thank you for your contribution to the MedicalResearch.com community.
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Nonnutritive sweeteners and cardiometabolic health: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials and prospective cohort studiesCMAJ July 17, 2017 189:E929–E939; doi:10.1503/cmaj.161390
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