News: Sugar substitutes may be worthless in the battle of the bulge

October 1, 2008

New research suggests that sugar substitutes may not be the best way to lose weight.

New research adds to the growing body of evidence suggesting that sugar substitutes may not be the best way to lose weight because they lessen the body's energy expenditure following eating and fail to trigger the mechanism that makes us feel satiated.

A recent human study found that sugar is more adept than sugar substitutes at stimulating brain areas involved in expectation and satisfaction and, thus, better at turning off the desire for more sweet foods. In other words, sweetness alone without accompanying calories does not trigger the natural feedback mechanism that results in satiety, so other avenues to satisfaction, like additional eating, are pursued.

Similarly investigators at Purdue University in Indiana recently demonstrated that rats fed foods containing saccharin consumed more calories and gained more weight than rats fed foods containing sugar. In addition, compared with sugar-fed rats, those consuming saccharin had a smaller rise in core body temperature following eating, which caused the rodents to eat more and burn calories less efficiently.