Artificial sweeteners could confuse brain to put on weight and trigger diabetes even when they are low-calorie, a new study suggests. As sweeter substances contain more energy, the human body has evolved to burn more calories if something is sweet in taste.
However, diet products that carry a sweet taste tricks the brain into thinking that there are lesser calories to burn, causing metabolism to drop, storing up the products as fat, researchers at Yale University in US found.
“A calorie is not a calorie. When sweet taste and energy are not matched, less energy is metabolised and inaccurate signals go to the brain. Either may affect metabolic health.”, said Professor Dana Small, senior author of the study.
In the study that was published in Current Biology, the brains of 15 people who consumed diet drinks and others who drank regular ones were scanned.
As a result, scientists witnessed a 'mismatch', when the brain did not registerd that calories had been consumed, leading to eat more.
According to reseachers processed foods such as yogurt flavoured with low calorie sweeteners, contain such mismatches.
“In other words, the assumption that more calories trigger greater metabolic and brain response is wrong”, Prof Small said. “Calories are only half of the equation; sweet taste perception is the other half.”