Everywhere we look these days we see advertisements for zero calorie drinks and low calorie sweets. With so many low calorie options being sold and consumed by Americans, why are Americans only getting fatter? Artificial sweeteners are in an abundance of products being consumed by Americans, with the thought that these products will assist in losing weight or staying slim. All the while obesity rate in America is climbing annually. Could these weight loss foods actually be making us fatter? New studies have revealed that not only are they contributing to health problems, they are actually making people fatter.
As America’s obesity rate increases, our obsession with losing weight without any effort is also increasing. Americans today seem to want a quick fix to losing weight or an effortless way to staying slim. You can find Americans at the drive thru window ordering a bacon-double cheeseburger value meal, with a diet soda. You may also find Americans who obsessed with eating low calorie food and beverages to stay healthy. But these low calorie offerings may be contributing to America’s ever rising obesity problem.
Artificial sweetener producers and promoters “have been selling their products as ‘diet’ aids for more than 50 years” (de la Pena, 2010). Many dieticians and weight loss clinics promote consuming artificial sweeteners as part of a weight loss plan. But what are these artificial sweeteners? Artificial sweeteners are a laboratory mixture of chemicals that accumulate in your organs, pollute blood and can cause a variety of health problems. One health problem in particular is weight gain (Hull, 2005).
According to recent research, artificial sweeteners interfere with the body’s ability to naturally count the calories that have been consumed. The result is that you “end up eating more than your body needs, which leads to putting on weight”. The sweet tastes trigger your body to think that nutrients are coming, when in fact they are not. Because your stomach never receives the nutrients it is anticipating it throws of f the body’s physiological response, and may actually cause people to then eat more food overall (Burling 2009).
Recent studies have shown that these artificial sweeteners can actually contribute to weight gain. One such study conducted by the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine found that there is link between rising obesity rates and rising artificial sweetener consumption (de la Pena, 2010). These studies are usually kept out of public eye but these findings are not new. In 1986, the journal Preventative Medicine conducted research on 80,000 women who consumed artificial sweetener. They found that women who consumed artificial sweetener were “significantly” more likely to gain weight (de la Pena, 2010). Yet these artificial sweeteners are marketed as weight loss tools. Millions of Americans consume products containing artificial sweeteners with the belief that they will maintain a healthy weight, or even lose weight.
The University of Texas Health Science center, in San Antonio Texas, also conducted research on this matter. They found that “for every diet soda you sip daily, your risk of becoming overweight can rise by 37 percent” and you are 65 percent more likely to become overweight within eight years (Burling 2009).
Aside from weight gain, these artificial sweeteners have also been proven to cause serious health problems. People who drink excessive amounts of diet soda have an increased rate of high blood pressure, elevated glucose levels and obesity. These health problems can lead to development of type 2 diabetes and heart disease (Burling, 2009). Most of the products containing artificial sweeteners are often times lacking nutrients that are vital to proper health. When the body is lacking nutrients it is more susceptible to disease. Aspartame, a popular artificial sweetener, contains aspartic acid, which affects the central nervous system. Aspartame also contains phenylalanine. A diet containing high amounts of phenylalanine causes seizures, elevated blood plasma, negative effects during pregnancy that could result in retardation, increased PMS symptoms, insomnia and severe mood swings (Hull, 2005). According to Betty Kovacs, a registered dietician and director of nutrition for the New York Obesity Research Weight Loss Program, aspartame has been linked to severe headaches and depression (Burling, 2009). Sucralose (SPLENDA) is a chlorocarbon. It is a compound that contains chlorine. Chlorocarbons are known for causing organ, genetic and reproductive damage. In tests conducted on lab rats showed up to forty percent shrinkage of the thymus gland. The thymus gland is the foundation of our immune system. Aspartame also contains methanol, a proven neurotoxin. It can cause retinal damage in the eye, it interferes with DNA replication, and it causes birth defects (Hull, 2005).
With all this information, Americans are still under the assumption a healthy, low calorie diet should include artificial sweeteners. American’s obsession with losing weight and looking good is actually making them fatter and less healthy. What people should realize is that health begins on the inside. Joey Schulman, a registered nutritionist based in Richmond Hill, Ontario, who runs a weight loss clinic, advises her clients to forego artificial sweeteners altogether. She suggests “they give it up and hydrate with herbal tea, water, or diluted fruit juice instead. There’s no reason why they can’t add a little bit of real sugar to tea or coffee. That’s not going to cause problems” (Sponagle, 2009). If the body never sees sugar, it probably won’t metabolize it properly when it finally does. Sugar is a necessary carbohydrate in the body. Consuming sugar in moderation is a good thing.
A balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, meats and grains will offer you optimal health. People need to realize that there is no quick fix to weight loss. In order to look good on the outside, you must take into consideration the inside.
The next time you reach for the little packet of artificial sweetener, or you order a diet soda, you should stop and think. The very products that are promising health and weight loss are actually contributing to poor health and weight gain. So many Americans are obsessed with looking good, even if that means not educating themselves on the facts. Being slim goes hand-in-hand with being healthy. Sticking to a healthy, chemical free diet will ultimately give you the results you are looking for. Skip the diet soda, and go for the water.