A study published recently in JAMA Network Open provides evidence that drinks made with sucralose may stimulate the appetite, among people suffering from obesity, especially women.

The study gives some clues as to why obesity plays a part…

They found that females and people with obesity had greater brain reward activity after consuming the artificial sweetener. Both groups also had a reduction in the hormone that inhibits appetite, and they ate more food after they consumed drinks with sucralose, compared with after regular sugar-sweetened drinks.

In contrast, the study found males and non-obese participants did not have an increase in either brain reward activity or hunger response, meaning they’re not affected in the same way…

“We found that females and people with obesity had greater brain reward activity” after consuming the artificial sweetener, says study author Katie Page, a physician specializing in obesity at the University of Southern California.

Both groups also had a reduction in the hormone that inhibits appetite, and they ate more food after they consumed drinks with sucralose, compared with after regular sugar-sweetened drinks. In contrast, the study found males and people of healthy weight did not have an increase in either brain reward activity or hunger response, suggesting they’re not affected in the same way.

Obese individual reactions to diet sodawere measured in three ways…

1⃣ They used functional MRI brain images of the 74 study participants to document the activation of parts of the brain linked to appetite and cravings.

2⃣ They used blood samples to measure blood sugar and metabolic hormones that can drive hunger.

3⃣ They also tracked how much participants ate at a buffet table that was open at the end of each study session.

Their findings proved that artificial sweeteners could be priming the brains of people with obesity to crave high-calorie foods, something they already struggle with.  The idea is that artificial sweeteners may confuse the body by tricking it into thinking sugar is coming and then it doesn’t and they’re left with higher cravings, the inability to metabolize the sugar as well as identify when they’re full. All of this snowballs together and creates a cycle/habit that packs in extra calories, and in turn more weight.

If you suffer from type 2 diabetes or obesity cut out diet soda for a month and see if you can tell a difference in your appetite, weight, and overall inflammation. After this study and what we see clinically, we’d have to agree, that artificial sugar weather found in diet soda or other drinks and snacks should be avoided unless part of a balanced diet plan that restricts overall calories and sugar consumption.

How does artificial sugar affect you? Do you see some of these same findings?

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