Staying fit and healthy has become one of our most important priority, and rightfully so. Sugar and carbohydrates in general, are definitely those food elements that contribute the most to an eventual weight gain. As studies have shown, lower intake of glucose is key in both not gaining and losing extra weight. But how to lose or not gain weight has remained an open question. The numbers of possible diet systems keep on multiplying. Artificial Sweeteners as a substitute for sugar have been around for a while, but their use and positive effects are more and more coming under scrutiny and criticism.

Some recent studies go a step further in that direction.

Do you want to lose, or gain weight?

Two of the more recent studies on the effects of these sweeteners have been published by the "Canadian Medical Association Journal" and "Cell Metabolism" journal. Both, in many ways, not only dispute their positive weight loss effect but actually claim the could be the cause of a weight gain! Even more so, they could also cause other negative health issues.

The Charles Perkins Centre and School of Life and Environmental Sciences at the University Of Sydney, Australia has conducted several research projects on fruit flies and mice. The researchers tried a combination of high intake of artificial sweeteners with high and low intake of carbohydrates.

The most recent data they came up with shows that neither combination lowered the intake of food. The researchers attributed this to the fact that their constant use increased the feeling of hunger since the neuronal network was signaling to animals that they have not had a sufficient intake of energy. This almost always leads to further intake of food and actual weight gain!

Further research needed

These studies also indicate that there are other possible negative health impacts of artificial sweeteners. The results though are still not fully conclusive. As Greg Neely, one of the researchers with on the University of Sydney projects said, further research is needed on their effects on metabolism.

Meghan Azad, the lead researcher on the Canadian project, agreed on the need for further research, particularly on the potential connection between weight gain, diabetes and "other negative cardiovascular outcomes." One thing she insisted on though, was that there is no clear benefit of artificial sweeteners on weight loss.

The Calorie Control Council is a trade group of which artificial sweetener manufacturers belong. It agrees that more research is needed, but insists that the connection between aspartame and similar products and certain diseases has not been confirmed. It also stressed the need for more personally based and "multifactorial and multidisciplinary approaches" in these studies. Whatever the further studies will show, one thing is certain - those who need to use artificial sweeteners should proceed with caution.