Health experts have expressed their concern over artificial sweeteners being unhealthy alternatives to sugar and could increase the likelihood of people developing type 2 diabetes. Aspartame, an artificial sweetener, was categorized as “possibly carcinogenic to humans” by the World Health Organization in June, implying that it may cause cancer.
Fans of fizzy alternatives, such as Diet Coke, have been given another setback, as a recent study published in the Diabetes Journal indicated that persons who ingested artificial sweeteners were more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those who did not. Aspartame, saccharin, and stevia are examples of such sweeteners.
According to researchers, it is recommended to avoid consuming “diet” alternatives and instead opt for unsweetened foods and drinks, as well as foods that contain naturally occurring sugars, such as fruits. The study’s findings suggest that these additives may not be safe substitutes for sugar and provide valuable insights for health authorities who are currently reevaluating the use of artificial sweeteners worldwide.
In the study, researchers wrote: “The findings strengthen evidence that these additives may not be safe sugar alternatives. [It also] provides important insights in the context of ongoing worldwide reevaluation of artificial sweeteners by health authorities.”
The experts analyzed the diets and health of 105,588 people for a total of nine years, reports the Mirror.
French scientists studied the diets and health of 105,588 people for nine years, finding that 972 participants had developed type 2 diabetes. Consuming between 16-18mg of artificial sweeteners per day had a 69% higher chance of developing the condition than those who ate less. Consuming aspartame-containing products had a 63% higher chance of developing the disease. The Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JEFCA) ruled that existing daily limits on aspartame are safe, allowing individuals to consume up to 14 cans of Diet Coke daily.
However, independent specialists say that individuals should not try to drink that much because it might create additional issues, such as tooth erosion. Dr. Duane Mellor of Aston University told The Sun, “To be clear, this is not a recommendation to consume. High intakes of any soft drinks, including diet versions containing sweeteners, are likely to lead to less healthy foods being consumed.”
Many people could have type 2 diabetes, but may not notice any of the common symptoms that could be present. This is because diabetes symptoms don’t tend to make people feel extremely unwell.
Symptoms of type 2 diabetes include:
- Peeing more than usual, particularly at night
- Feeling thirsty all the time
- Feeling very tired
- Losing weight without trying to
- Itching around your penis or vagina, or repeatedly getting thrush
- Cuts or wounds taking longer to heal
- Blurred vision
Moreover, individuals who are at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes are those over 40 years old, or over 25 if they are of South Asian descent. Having a close relative with diabetes, such as a parent, brother or sister, also increases their risk. Being overweight or obese is another risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes.
Meanwhile, individuals of Asian, African-Caribbean or black African origin are at a higher risk, even if they were born in the UK. It is important for them to be aware of these risk factors and take steps to reduce their risk of developing type 2 diabetes.