Sweeteners linked to weight gain

New research by scientists in Brazil has linked non-nutritive sweeteners (NNSs) like saccharin and Aspartame with weight game.

There has long been a suspicion that NNSs can lead to weight gain but the evidence is largely inconclusive.  So the Brazilian team, led by Marcello Casaccia Bertoluci, designed a trial (using a rat model) to compare the effect of saccharin and aspartame to sucrose in body weight gain and in caloric intake.

The rats in the trial were given food consisting of plain yoghurt sweetened with 20% sucrose, 0.3% sodium saccharin or 0.4% aspartame, in addition to chow and a water supply. Measurements of body weight gain and calorie intake of the of sweetened yogurt were performed weekly for 12 weeks.

The results showed that addition of either saccharin or aspartame to yogurt resulted in increased weight gain compared to addition of sucrose, but that total caloric intake was similar among groups.

The researchers concluded that weight greater gain was promoted by the use of saccharin or aspartame, compared with sucrose – and this weight gain was unrelated to caloric intake. The speculate that a decrease in energy expenditure or increase in fluid retention could be involved.