Q: I’m trying to cut back on calories. Is it OK to opt for foods made with artificial sweeteners?
A: If you’re looking to lose weight, turning to artifcial sweeteners might actually backfre. Scientists at Purdue University recently discovered that choosing saccharin-sweetened foods and drinks may cause greater weight gain than plain old sugar. Although their research focused on lab rats, it gels with emerging evidence that obesity risk could be higher among people who frequently drink diet soda.
When you consume sweet foods or drinks, your body readies itself to take in a lot of calories. If those calories aren’t delivered, the new study suggests, your metabolic system can get thrown off, making it harder to burn off calories and increasing your chances of overeating later on.
What’s more, saccharin (and aspartame) has been linked to cancer in a number of other animal studies. So instead of chugging diet soda or eating artifcially sweetened snacks, I’d encourage satisfying your sweet tooth with healthier foods like fruit, sorbets, or a few squares of dark chocolate.
Dr. Brent Ridge is the health expert for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. You can call and ask him a question live every Tuesday at 2 p.m. Eastern on Sirius Satellite Radio, Channel 112 (1.866.675.6675). You can also follow along as he learns to grow his own food and raise goats on his farm in upstate New York by visiting www.beekman1802.com.
Got a health question for Dr. Brent? E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.