In a small, preliminary study presented at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes in Lisbon, Portugal, researchers at the University of Adelaide in Australia revealed that artificial sweeteners impair the body’s response to glucose, reducing control of blood sugar levels. 

The study involved 27 healthy participants who were given either capsules of the artificial sweeteners sucralose (brand name Splenda) and acesulfame K in an amount equivalent to consuming 1.5 liters of diet drinks a day or a placebo. 

It took just two weeks for the artificial sweetener group to show adverse effects to their blood sugar levels, including a reduction in numbers of the gut peptide GLP-1, which limits the rise in blood sugar after eating. Lead study author Richard Young, associate professor at the University of Adelaide, said in a news release, “This highlights the potential for exaggerated post-meal glucose levels in high habitual NAS [noncaloric artificial sweeteners] users, which could predispose them to developing Type 2 diabetes.

Artificial sweeteners may increase your risk of weight gain, obesity, metabolic syndrome and other related problems like Type 2 diabetes by inducing “metabolic derangements,” according to a report published in the journal Trends in Endocrinology and Metabolism. Research published in Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism also found aspartame intake is associated with greater glucose intolerance in people with obesity.

Glucose intolerance is a condition in which your body loses its ability to cope with high amounts of sugar, and it’s a well-known precursor to Type 2 diabetes. It also plays a role in obesity, because the excess sugar in your blood ends up being stored in your fat cells. This means obese individuals who use aspartame may have higher blood sugar levels, which in turn will raise insulin levels, leading to related weight gain, inflammation and an increased risk of diabetes.

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