Diet pop and other artificially sweetened products may cause us to eat and drink even more calories and increase our risk for obesity and Type 2 diabetes, researchers are learning.
Former McGill University researcher Dana Small specializes in the neuropsychology of flavour and feeding at Yale University in New Haven, Conn. Small said there’s mounting evidence that artificial sweeteners have a couple of problematic effects. Sugar substitutes such as sucralose and aspartame are more intensely sweet than sugar and may rewire taste receptors so less sweet, healthier foods aren’t as enjoyable, shifting preferences to higher calorie, sweeter foods, she said.
Small and some other researchers believe artificial sweeteners interfere with brain chemistry and hormones that regulate appetite and satiety. For millennia, sweet taste signalled the arrival of calories. But that’s no longer the case with artificial sweeteners.
“The sweet taste is no longer signalling energy and so the body adapts,” Small said in an interview with CBC News. “It’s no longer going to release insulin when it senses sweet because sweet now is not such a good predictor of the arrival of energy.”