Caution urged on the use of # artificial sweeteners

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Artificial sweeteners could be associated with a long-term increase in BMI and an elevated risk of cardiometabolic disease.

The authors of a new study, which looked at whether consuming artificial sweeteners is associated with negative long-term effects on weight, heart disease, and other illnesses, have warned that caution is warranted around their use until the long-term risks and benefits of these products are fully characterised.

In the study, published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal) , the authors conducted a systematic review of 37 studies that followed over 400,000 people for an average of 10 years. Seven of these studies were randomised controlled trials (RCTs) involving 1,003 people.

Evidence from the RCTs did not clearly support the intended benefits of non-nutritive sweeteners for weight management. Furthermore, observational data suggested that routine consumption of sweeteners could be associated with a long-term increase in BMI and an elevated risk of cardiometabolic disease, however, the authors said these associations have not been confirmed in experimental studies.

“Given the widespread and increasing use of artificial sweeteners, and the current epidemic of obesity and related diseases, more research is needed to determine the long-term risks and benefits of these products,” said lead author Dr. Meghan Azad. “Caution is warranted until the long-term health effects of artificial sweeteners are fully characterised,” Dr Azad added.

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