In November 2017 researchers from the USA published their review of the association between artificial sweeteners and obesity. Although artificial sweeteners were developed as a sugar substitute to help reduce insulin resistance and obesity, studies have suggested that artificial sweeteners may actually contribute to the metabolic syndrome and to obesity. Artificial sweeteners appear to change the host microbiome, lead to decreased satiety, alter glucose homeostasis, and are associated with increased calorie consumption and weight gain. Artificial sweeteners are marketed as a healthy alternative to sugar and as a tool for weight loss. Data however suggests that the intended effects are not the same as what is seen in clinical practice. Future research should focus on the newer plant-based sweeteners, look at the long-term effects of artificial sweetener consumption, and focus on changes in the microbiome, as that seems to be one of the main driving forces behind nutrient absorption and glucose metabolism.
Pearlman M et al. The Association Between Artificial Sweeteners and Obesity. Curr Gastroenterol Rep. 2017 Nov 21;19(12):64