CRF Blog

Artificial sweeteners

by David De La Torre

In Saccharin solution?, The Economist reports on the latest study on artificial sweeteners and how it conflicts with previous studies.

Several previous studies have suggested that artificial sweeteners might affect intestinal bacteria. But the Nature paper, whose lead authors are Eran Elinav and Eran Segal, of the Weizmann Institute of Science, in Israel, is the most robust yet. Like much biomedical research, the initial work was done in mice. Three groups of rodents were given water containing aspartame, sucralose or saccharin, three common commercial sugar substitutes. Three control groups were given plain water or water laced with glucose or sucrose — sugars from which the body can extract energy.

After a week, Dr Elinav and Dr Segal gave their animals a hefty dose of glucose and measured how well they processed it (inability to do so properly is a risk factor for obesity, and is characteristic of diabetes). [more]