CAM PoliticsDiet-NutritionObesity

Do artificial sweeteners make you fat?

Around 1990, two studies here and here suggested that artificial sweeteners had little satiating capacity compared to glucose or sucrose. It raised the question, if they didn’t make you feel full (or keep you feeling full) compared to sugar, how could they help lose weight?

This is the source of the rumor that artificial sweeteners cause weight gain.

A decade later, the controversy was resolved.

In a 10-week study, 41 obese individuals used either sucrose or artificial sweeteners. Body weight and fat mass increased in the sucrose group (by 1.6 and 1.3 kg, respectively) and decreased in the artificial sweetener group (by 1.0 and 0.3 kg, respectively).

The differences between groups were significant, and occurred because sucrose added a significant amount of calories. Yet, this group didn’t compensate by lowering their carbohydrate intake.

It turned out that subjects using the artificial sweetener didn’t modify their carbohydrate consumption either. Therefore, artificial sweeteners do not lead to over-consumption of high-carbohydrate foods and, therefore, weight gain.

Interestingly, there was no difference between the sucrose and the artificial sweetener groups in hunger, fullness, and well-being ratings.

The bottom line.

Artificial sweeteners contribute to weight loss by offsetting the calories provided by sugar. There is nothing in the artificial sweetener that causes dieters to otherwise reduce their calorie intake.

9/4/06 22:55 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.