Science

Study On Mice Suggests Diet Soda Ingredient Aspartame Causes Weight Gain

By Christie Abagon , Nov 28, 2016 03:09 AM EST
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Mice have long been used as subjects for breakthrough studies.  This time, a study using mice may just prove that diet colas are not really for dieting at all.  Researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital suggests you may want to stay away from those diet soda cans.

Aspartame is a common ingredient in diet sodas.  It is a sugar substitute used as sweetener.  This new study proves what may skeptics have said in the past: this ingredient is fattening.

Aspartame Makes You Feel Hungrier And Eat More

A previous research already suggested that aspartame makes you feel hungrier and eat more.  Now, this new research, which is led by  Dr. Richard Hodin claims that one of aspartame's metabolites might be the culprit.  Phenylalanine is a breakdown product of aspartame.  It inhibits a gut enzyme called intestinal alkaline phosphatase (IAP), which has been shown to prevent metabolic syndrome in mice.  This group of syndrome is associated with the symptoms of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and obesity.

"Sugar substitutes like aspartame are designed to promote weight loss and decrease the incidence of metabolic syndrome, but a number of clinical and epidemiologic studies have suggested that these products don't work very well and may actually make things worse. We found that aspartame blocks a gut enzyme called intestinal alkaline phosphatase (IAP) that we previously showed can prevent obesity, diabetes and metabolic syndrome.  So we think that aspartame might not work because, even as it is substituting for sugar, it blocks the beneficial aspects of IAP," Hodin said. 

Aspartame Is Found In Thousands Of Products

Thousands of food products contain aspartame.  It is also sold as NutraSweet and Equal, has raised a variety of health concerns over the years, causing some sodas to advertise that they are "aspartame-free."  Last year, Pepsi's sales plummeted before they introduced a new diet soda to the market.  

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