Researchers at the Medical College of Wisconsin and Marquette University have been exploring a potential association between artificial sweeteners and the continued staggering increase in diabetes and obesity. This research builds upon earlier studies that examined potential negative health risks associated with artificial sweeteners, including but not limited to an increased risk for diabetes and obesity. This earlier research found inconclusive evidence that provided little guidance for further recommendations, thus strengthening the need for re-examination of this potential link. Read more.

Gaining control over hyperglycemia associated with diabetes has often included efforts to set limits on dietary carbohydrates and sugar and has been a longstanding nonpharmacologic intervention. With the emergence of reduced calorie or noncaloric artificial sweeteners, individuals who were required to modify their diets could find wider selections of their favorite foods as nonsugar options began saturating grocery stores. It appears, however, that these sweeteners come with some risks that must be weighed by consumers. A recent study conducted by Hoffman, et al, that was presented at the Experimental Biology 2018 conference, held in San Diego, California, highlights the influence of artificial sugar on vascular health and diabetic-disease progression.
According to lead researcher Brian Hoffmann, PhD, assistant professor in the department of biomedical engineering at the Medical College of Wisconsin and Marquette University, nothing comes without a cost. “Despite the addition of these non-caloric artificial sweeteners to our everyday diets, there has still been a drastic rise in obesity and diabetes,” said Hoffman. “In our studies, both sugar and artificial sweeteners seem to exhibit negative effects linked to obesity and diabetes, albeit through very different mechanisms from each other,” he said.

Critics of the study suggest caution since the research team used animal studies to explore the vascular changes, and, therefore, metabolic results may not be the same for humans. Researchers said additional studies are needed to further examine the link between artificial sweeteners and obesity and diabetes—and the impact of exposure on humans—to determine whether these substances should be avoided entirely. Hoffman noted, “We observed that in moderation, your body has the machinery to handle sugar; it is when the system is overloaded over a long period of time that this machinery breaks down,” he said.

 « Click here to return to Diabetes Update.