New data gleaned from five years of studies have shown that artificial sweeteners can lead to weight gain as the body forgets how to process real sugar. Sweet taste without the guilt — this has long been the promise of diet sodas. But researchers at Purdue University have found by reviewing studies done over the past five years that diet soda and other artificially sweetened products could cause the same health problems as regular soda. In review, Susan E. Swithers, a Purdue professor of behavioral neuroscience, discovered that with consuming artificial sweeteners like sucralose, aspartame and saccharin, the body loses its ability to process real sugar, which could result in weight gain. With real sugar, messages are released to the brain and the gullet via hormones that regulate digestion and intake of food, blood sugar levels, and even perception of fullness and satisfaction from the food consumed. However, with no actual calories to process with artificial sweeteners, the body doesn't know how
to react. "You've messed up the whole system, so when you consume real sugar, your body doesn't know if it should try to process it because it's been tricked by the fake sugar so many times," says Swithers to CNN. The end result, says Swithers, is that the body's metabolic system stops reacting to real sugars and doesn’t release the hormones that say, “That was delicious, I’m full.” This can cause an endless cycle of feeling hungry and wanting more sugar. It has also been shown that people who regularly drink diet soda have a higher risk of weight gain, obesity and type 2 diabetes and heart disease. However, representatives of the American Beverage Association disagree and argue that low-calorie products can be effective tools for weight control, calling the study “an opinion piece,” in a released statement, according to CNN. Theresa Hedrick, nutrition and scientific affairs specialist for the Calorie Control Council lobbying group, told WebMD, "I think it's
important to remember that low-calorie sweeteners are one aspect of a multifaceted approach to health or obesity prevention. ...They aren't magic bullets."