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Artificial sweeteners have been shown to help people maintain their weight and improve their health, but they have also been liked to conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. Nutrition scientist Allison Sylvetsky has been unpicking the evidence

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You may be surprised by some of the foods that contain artificial sweeteners

shutterstock/Anna-Mari West

You may be surprised by some of the foods that contain artificial sweeteners
shutterstock/Anna-Mari West
YOU could be forgiven for being completely confused when it comes to consuming low-calorie or artificial sweeteners. Some days, the headlines are full of praise for their beneficial effects on health, helping people to lose weight by replacing their favourite sugary drinks and treats with similar-tasting diet versions. At other times, we are told low-calorie sweeteners are linked with serious health conditions, from raising blood pressure to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. Just last month, a large study of French adults claimed to have found an association between consuming sweeteners and an increased risk of heart disease.
Allison Sylvetsky, an associate professor in the department of exercise and nutrition sciences at George Washington University, Washington DC, is trying to unpick the science involved in this controversial topic. Her work is shedding light on whether artificial sweeteners can give us the sweet fix we seek while helping us to maintain our weight and prevent chronic disease, or whether they should be handled with care.
Helen Thomson: It is widely accepted that too much sugar is bad for you. Artificial sweeteners are a supposedly healthy replacement, so can you tell us some of their proposed benefits?
Allison Sylvetsky: Sure. We know that too much added sugar is not good for our health. Artificial sweeteners provide a sweet and palatable alternative that has few or no calories. Until recently, it’s been the belief that these sweeteners don’t really do anything in the body because they don’t contain …
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