By in Health & Fitness

Do Artificial Sweeteners Pave the Pathway to Diabetes?

Does the use of artificial sweeteners in the human diet lead to an increased risk for the development of diabetes mellitus? Expect the equivalent of a slug fest in words among experts on both sides of the issue until definitive study results answer this question.

Non-caloric artificial sweeteners are an ingredient in so many foods and beverages, but the long-term effects of ingesting these substances has mainly been an issue for theories.

A study conducted in Rehovet, Israel published results of their scientific findings in the Sept. 17, 2014 issue of Nature . The study investigated the results of giving one of three artificial sweeteners -- aspartame, saccharin and sucralose -- to mice for 11 weeks. Additional mice were given either sugar water or plain water for the same period of time.

At the end of that period, all the mice were given sugar, then the glucose levels of all the mice were obtained. The mice who had been given sugar water or plain water showed about the same blood sugar levels, but the mice who had been given one of the three artificial sweeteners all had elevated blood sugar levels.

Two preliminary tests on humans were also conducted, with those results to be found here .

The thinking at this time is that in some people, eating and/or drinking products with artificial sweeteners may alter the normal gut bacteria, setting up glucose intolerance -- one of the predisposing factor of diabetes mellitus.

What further research will show remains to be seen, but it seems imperative that delving into this theory and study in further detail.

In the meantime, whether you choose to change your dietary habits based on these early results is a personal choice.

References:; Artificial sweeteners induce glucose intolerance by altering gut microbiota ; Sept. 17, 2014 Also -- Abstract at PubMed .gov.

APS; Artificial sweeteners may promote diabetes ; Sept. 29, 2014; High-Intensity Sweeteners

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LeaPea2417 wrote on October 1, 2014, 9:07 PM

Yes, I think they lead to diabetes and also lots of people think they help you lose weight but they don't . They contribute to weight gain.

Ellis wrote on October 1, 2014, 9:19 PM

It's not all fun and games being a mouse...

bestwriter wrote on October 1, 2014, 9:25 PM

And to think that they advocate this product as being safe. Surely the Foods and Drugs authorities must have given whatever certificate to justify their claim after necessary tests?

Feisty56 wrote on October 1, 2014, 9:27 PM

Yes, i recall reading something about that. I avoid artificial sweeteners myself and fortunately don't often have a craving for anything sweet.

bestwriter wrote on October 1, 2014, 9:27 PM

It is either the cat, the trap or the toxicological department they have to run away from. Atleast they are safe with those who work on the computer :)

Feisty56 wrote on October 1, 2014, 9:28 PM

Not a lab mouse, that's for certain.

Feisty56 wrote on October 1, 2014, 9:29 PM

It surely makes you wonder, doesn't it?

bestwriter wrote on October 1, 2014, 9:55 PM

Not just wonder but I feel sorry for those who religiously go for them. :( I am a candidate for natural sugar, natural chocolates and everything sweet that is natural emoticon :grin:

Ruby3881 wrote on October 1, 2014, 10:18 PM

I tend to believe they're on the right track, but I'll wait to see a better designed study published in a peer-reviewed journal. The fact that the sweeteners given to the mice were "the equivalent of 42 12-once sodas a day for a person weighing 150 pounds" is troubling. The actual Nature article says the researchers were trying to "simulate the real-world situation of people with varying risks," but I don't know anyone who drinks that much soda in a week, let alone a day.

paigea wrote on October 1, 2014, 11:00 PM

It will be interesting to follow this research. I rarely use any artificial sweeteners luckily.

BarbRad wrote on October 1, 2014, 11:10 PM

I read about this study. I don't use any artificial sweeteners because I just don't like them. But my husband uses Saccharin in every cup of coffee or tea, and I worry about that.

MegL wrote on October 2, 2014, 1:51 AM

I did know a person who drank that much soda, definitely in a week but POSSIBLY each day! She did not drink tea or coffee and bought diet soda in 2 litre bottles, which she drank during the working day, with more at home.

OldRoadsOnceTraveled wrote on October 2, 2014, 2:21 AM

I'm concerned about the safety of artificial sweeteners in general. I don't add them to anything, so my main vice is Diet Dr. Pepper, which I'm trying to cut down on. I'm training myself to drink more water.

GemOfAGirl wrote on October 2, 2014, 3:37 AM

I just know that any time I've ever tried any of the artificial sweeteners (except saccharin, oddly enough), my body has reacted horribly to it. Every time I hear about some study about it, I'm almost thankful that my body hasn't allowed me to even use them (even though it was pretty painful sometimes.)

AliCanary wrote on October 2, 2014, 5:17 AM

Ugh, I don't wanna think about it. I did lose weight when I switched from regular soda to diet soda, though. Sugar is not good for you at all, artificial OR real. There's no RDA for sugar, because it has literally NO nutritional value.

Ruby3881 wrote on October 2, 2014, 5:42 AM

She'd have to have drunk something like 15L to equal the 42 12-ounce sodas. Even if we're generous and we say she drank the full 2L each day, that's still over a week's worth of sweetener. And they were feeding that much to the mice each day.

Kasman wrote on October 2, 2014, 6:50 AM

That's the trouble with so-called scientific studies like this. The subjects are often superdosed with huge amounts of whatever - no wonder they develop side-effects, symptoms and health problems. Heck, even drinking too much water can kill you!

Kasman wrote on October 2, 2014, 6:57 AM

I drink a couple of cans of diet soda a day. I remember reading somewhere (ages ago) that sugar destroys brain cells. Guess us with a sweet tooth just can't win :)

Kent_123 wrote on October 2, 2014, 9:20 AM

Fiesty56, Very good article on artificial sweeteners, useful information for diabetic person.

SandraLPetersen wrote on October 3, 2014, 9:00 AM

We've tried to avoid artificial sweeteners in our household since a few years after my husband and I got married and we had our first child. But then, we both grew up in the years when cyclamate as a sweetener was banned so we're inclined to mistrust things like that anyway. The bad thing is my husband works for a clinic/hospital system which has deemed it healthier to eliminate all regular soda and offer only diet soda in their vending machines and in their cafeteria because of the amount of sugar in those drinks. I told my husband if it wasn't likely to lose his job for him, he could easily make a good bunch of money from running a black market on regular soda for his coworkers. Everyone he knows hates the new policy. Good informative article.

BeckyBrooks wrote on October 3, 2014, 8:19 PM

well this is bad news for me! I have been low carbing for the past well over a year and lost 40 lbs but this is disturbing because I eat artificial sweeteners all the time and I feel like I would really miss them. I have been thinking lately that I would like to try to give them up because of some other symptoms I am having and your article is giving me a reason to really make an effort to stop with the artificial sweeteners but I use them in so many occasions. It's going to take a lot of change like my coffee I use flavors with artificial sweeteners. and diet pop plus sugar free candies. I feel like if I give them up I should go cold turkey but that will be hard but I have never done well with stopping or starting anything slow. Thanks for the article

Feisty56 wrote on October 4, 2014, 1:42 PM

I think this preliminary study provides food for thought, but agree that more definitive research using amounts of the artificial sweeteners more representative of average use is what is needed. If my memory serves me well, the ban on saccharin back in the 1970s came about when massive amounts of the substance was given to lab animals and pronounced unsafe. (

Feisty56 wrote on October 4, 2014, 1:44 PM

Yes, I think this is just the beginning of research into the safety of the artificial sweeteners. It will be interesting to see what conclusions are reached in the future.

Feisty56 wrote on October 4, 2014, 1:45 PM

I don't care for the taste of them either, but am concerned for the folks I know who use the artificial sweeteners religiously in their beverages or even recipes.

Feisty56 wrote on October 4, 2014, 1:48 PM

I'm thankful that I never developed a liking for soda, and these days I don't even care much for sweets in general. That being said, I would rather eat a small taste of something with real sugar instead of a whole portion of something made with artificial sweeteners. This study points us in a preliminary direction, but that's all for now.

Feisty56 wrote on October 4, 2014, 1:50 PM

I'm with you, although fortunately my body has never reacted to artificial sweeteners as you've experienced. The few times I tasted something artificially sweetened, I hated the after-taste it left in my mouth and even my throat.

Feisty56 wrote on October 4, 2014, 1:53 PM

I'm sure that using honey or some other natural, unrefined sweetener provides more value than refined white sugar, but still has lots of calories and affects blood sugar levels.

Feisty56 wrote on October 4, 2014, 1:55 PM

It does seem to turn out that anything we truly enjoy consuming has its negatives, but is there anything that doesn't? I just go back to considering that moderation is the key in most things, including eating/drinking.

Feisty56 wrote on October 4, 2014, 1:58 PM

Thank you, but please keep in mind this is just one study, its design gave mammoth doses of the artificial sweeteners to the lab mice and the study report has not been peer-reviewed -- the standard for a study meeting scientific criteria.

Feisty56 wrote on October 4, 2014, 2:00 PM

Thank you. I wrote about this study, not because it is the last word on the issue, but because it does provide some food for thought. Maybe the place where your husband works could be persuaded to offer some juices or various waters in the vending machines so people would have true choices.

Feisty56 wrote on October 4, 2014, 2:02 PM

Congratulations on your weight loss success! I don't know that this study means that you or anyone needs to change any eating habits, but it might be something you want to discuss with your physician the next time you see him/her.

BeckyBrooks wrote on October 4, 2014, 6:23 PM

well I think quitting artificial junk that tastes good has got to be a positive. I don't want to go back to eating sugar as I knew that was bad news for me but I knew I was addicted to the diet pop at least. I have not had any today and I can honestly say I am VERY CRANKY lol

acelawrites wrote on October 4, 2014, 6:28 PM

That was bd. Instead of getting rid of the disease, it caused it; and it redounds to just one thing: money for the manufacturers!

Randajad_The_Traveller wrote on October 4, 2014, 10:39 PM

My dad is diabetic and he uses it a lot. The only sweetener I use is honey.

Feisty56 wrote on October 5, 2014, 8:09 PM

I wish you the best of success in kicking the diet soda habit -- if you can stand yourself in the process. : ) I know you can do this -- you just succeeded in losing 40 pounds!

Feisty56 wrote on October 5, 2014, 8:11 PM

If further scientific research proves the link between artificial sweeteners and glucose intolerance, then we'll know this preliminary study was on point. For now, we have to wait and see.

Feisty56 wrote on October 5, 2014, 8:19 PM

This study only looked at the mechanism for glucose intolerance, a forerunner of diabetes, not any effects on diabetes itself.

Ruby3881 wrote on October 7, 2014, 2:58 PM

Much agreed! They need to balance animal studies like this with longitudinal studies that examine actual human consumption.