There is mixed evidence about whether artificial sweeteners are harmful or helpful, but a new study shows that using them may raise the risk of diabetes.
Researchers added artificial sweeteners to the drinking water of laboratory mice and compared them to mice that were given plain water or water supplemented with sugar or another natural sweetener. Saccharin exerted the most pronounced effect, with the mice developing glucose intolerance, a precursor to diabetes.
The researchers also studied the effect of artificial sweeteners in humans by comparing questionnaire data between long- term users and data collected from 381 people who did not have diabetes.
They found that the people who used the artificial sweeteners were more likely to have several factors that would raise the risk of metabolic syndrome. These included obesity, a higher waist- to-hip ratio, higher fasting blood- glucose levels, and other test results that indicated glucose intolerance.
This study, published in Nature, underscores the idea that artificial sweeteners are not, in fact, heart healthy. You’re better off using just a tiny amount of sugar, honey, or maple syrup.