Aspartame Update: Coke Illegally Claims Diet Soda Can Combat Obesity, and Researchers Propose Autism Link by Dr. Mercola
July 22, 2015 |
By Dr. Mercola
The video above features Dr. Ralph G. Walton,1 M.D. chairman of the Center for Behavioral Medicine, and a professor and chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at the Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine.Dr. Walton is one of the leading researchers on aspartame, and in this interview, he discusses his research, and his appearance on 60 Minutes with Mike Wallace.He begins talking about aspartame about 15 minutes into the video, after reviewing some of his family history.The artificial sweetener aspartame is typically used to sweeten so-called "diet" foods and beverages in lieu of sugar (or high fructose corn syrup, HFCS) — the idea being that consuming fewer calories will result in weight loss.However, research has completely demolished this notion, showing that artificial sweeteners actually have the converse effect; they lower appetite suppressant chemicals and encourage sugar cravings and sugar dependence, thereby raising your odds of unwanted weight gain.Research has also shown artificial sweeteners promote insulin resistance and related health problems just like regular sugar does.
Use of the Word 'Diet' in Weight-Boosting Products Is Deceptive, False, and Misleading
False advertising is prohibited by federal law, and the term "diet" is only permitted on brands or labels when it is not false or misleading. In light of the burgeoning research demonstrating that artificially sweeteners actually raise your risk of obesity rather than combat it.The consumer group US Right to Know (US RTK) has asked the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to investigate Coca-Cola Co., PepsiCo. Inc., and other companies for false advertising.2,3In its citizen petition to the FDA,4 US RTK asks the agency to issue warning letters to Coca-Cola and Pepsi, concluding that the beverages are misbranded because the use of the term "diet" is false and misleading.On July 1, US RTK sent another letter5 to the FDA, urging the agency to stop Coca-Cola Company from making "illegal claims that its artificially sweetened sodas prevent, mitigate or treat obesity," noting that Coca-Cola has made such claims on at least eight occasions.For example, Coca-Cola Company recently announced6 that its number one "global commitment to fighting obesity" is to "offer low- or no-calorie beverage options in every market."If artificially sweetened beverages promote obesity rather than fight it — which research clearly indicates it does — then Coca-Cola's commitment is anything but helpful. Nor is it supported by science.As noted in a recent US RTK press release:7"'Federal law and rules allow food companies to make science-based 'health claims' that link a product to reduced risk of a disease, but prohibit them from making 'disease claims,' or claims to 'diagnose, mitigate, treat, cure, or prevent a specific disease.'"In this case, there is growing scientific evidence tying artificial sweeteners to weight gain, not weight loss.'Coke is gulling consumers into believing that artificially sweetened soda is a treatment for obesity,' said Gary Ruskin, co-director of U.S. Right to Know.'Coke is wrong on the facts and the FDA should stop them if they are on the wrong side of the law.'"
Many Studies Refute 'Diet' Claims of Artificial Sweeteners
Below is a sampling of studies published over the past three decades showing the beverage industry's claim that diet soda aids weight loss is absolutely false.
Preventive Medicine 19868 This study examined nearly 78,700 women aged 50-69 for one year. Artificial sweetener usage increased with relative weight, and users were significantly more likely to gain weight, compared to those who did not use artificial sweeteners — regardless of their initial weight.
According to the researchers, the results "were not explicable by differences in food consumption patterns.
The data do not support the hypothesis that long-term artificial sweetener use either helps weight loss or prevents weight gain."
Physiology and Behavior 19889 In this study, they determined that intense (no- or low-calorie) sweeteners can produce significant changes in appetite. Of the three sweeteners tested, aspartame produced the most pronounced effects. Physiology and Behavior 199010 Here, they found that aspartame had a time-dependent effect on appetite, "producing a transient decrease followed by a sustained increase in hunger ratings." Journal of the American Dietetic Association 199111 In a study of artificial sweeteners performed on college students, there was no evidence that artificial sweetener use was associated with a decrease in their overall sugar intake either. International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition 200312 This study, which looked at 3,111 children, found that diet soda, specifically, was associated with higher BMI. International Journal of Obesity and Metabolic Disorders 200413 This Purdue University study found that rats fed artificially sweetened liquids ate more high-calorie food than rats fed high-caloric sweetened liquids. The researchers believe the experience of drinking artificially sweetened liquids disrupted the animals' natural ability to compensate for the calories in the food. San Antonio Heart Study 200514 Data gathered from the 25-year long San Antonio Heart Study also showed that drinking diet soft drinks increased the likelihood of serious weight gain – far more so than regular soda.15 On average, for each diet soft drink the participants drank per day, they were 65 percent more likely to become overweight during the next seven to eight years, and 41 percent more likely to become obese. Journal of the American College of Nutrition 200516 In this two-year long study, which involved 166 school children, increased diet soda consumption was associated with higher BMI at the end of the trial. The Journal of Pediatrics 200617 The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Growth and Health Study included 2,371 girls aged 9 to 19 for 10 years. Soda consumption in general, both regular and diet, was associated with increase in total daily energy intake. Journal of Biology and Medicine201018 This study delves into the neurobiology of sugar cravings and summarizes the epidemiological and experimental evidence concerning the effect of artificial sweeteners on weight.
According to the authors: "[F]indings suggest that the calorie contained in natural sweeteners may trigger a response to keep the overall energy consumption constant... Increasing evidence suggests that artificial sweeteners do not activate the food reward pathways in the same fashion as natural sweeteners… [A]rtificial sweeteners, precisely because they are sweet, encourage sugar craving and sugar dependence."
Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine 201019 This review offers a summary of epidemiological and experimental evidence concerning the effects of artificial sweeteners on weight, and explains those effects in light of the neurobiology of food reward. It also shows the correlation between increased usage of artificial sweeteners in food and drinks, and the corresponding rise in obesity. More than 11,650 children aged 9 to14 were included in this study. Each daily serving of diet beverage was associated with a BMI increase of 0.16 kg/m2. Appetite 201220 Here, researchers showed that saccharin and aspartame both cause greater weight gain than sugar, even when the total caloric intake remains similar. Trends in Endocrinology & Metabolism 201321 This report highlights the fact that diet soda drinkers suffer the same exact health problems as those who opt for regular soda, such as excessive weight gain, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and stroke.22,23 The researchers speculate that frequent consumption of artificial sweeteners may induce metabolic derangements. Nature 201424 This study was able to clearly showcausality, revealing there's a direct cause and effect relationship between consuming artificial sweeteners and developing elevated blood sugar levels.
People who consumed high amounts of artificial sweeteners were found to have higher levels of HbA1C — a long-term measure of blood sugar — compared to non-users or occasional users of artificial sweeteners.
Seven volunteers who did not use artificial sweeteners were then recruited, and asked to consume the equivalent of 10 to12 single-dose packets of artificial sweeteners daily for one week.
Four of the seven people developed "significant disturbances in their blood glucose," according to the researchers. Some became pre-diabetic within just a few days. The reason for this dramatic shift was traced back to alterations in gut bacteria. Some bacteria were killed off, while others started proliferating.
PLoS One 201425 This study, which was done on rats, using aspartame, also found an increased risk of glucose intolerance. Animals that consume artificial sweeteners ended up with raised levels of propionate — short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) involved in sugar production. Consumption of artificial sweeteners shifted gut microbiota to produce propionate, which generated higher blood sugar levels. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society 201526 Seniors aged 65 and over were followed for an average of nine years, and there was a "striking dose-response relationship" between diet soda consumption and waist circumference. This held true even when other factors such as exercise, diabetes and smoking were taken into account.
People who never drank diet soda increased their waist circumference by an average of 0.8 inches during the nine-year observation period. Occasional diet soda drinkers added an average of 1.83 inches to their waist line in that time period. Daily diet soda drinkers gained an average of nearly 3.2 inches — quadruple that of those who abstained from diet soda altogether.
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