A brand new scientific study suggests that diets high in artificial sweeteners could contribute to diabetes and obesity at levels comparable to diets packed with glucose, but through drastically different methods.

Across three weeks, boffins at the Medical College of Wisconsin and Marquette University studied rats which were already susceptible to diabetes. They fed one group a diet chockers with ubiquitous sugars glucose and fructose, while feeding the other group aspartame and acesulfame potassium.

The findings? Well, the study’s lead author Brian Hoffman said that after the trial period, the group of rats fed artificial sweeteners displayed “biochemical changes in the blood that could potentially lead to alterations in fat and energy metabolism.”

Compared to diets laden with sugar, which simply overpower the body’s ability to produce the regulatory hormone insulin, Hoffman said the artificial sweeteners may “kinda trick the body” into thinking it’s receiving calories when it ain’t, which can throw insulin levels out of whack.

The study speculates a disconnect between how much energy the body thinks it is metabolising, and how much energy it actually is metabolising, may cause cells to seek energy from alternate sources like the protein found in muscle tissue.

That’s not ideal, and Hoffman said the tested “artificial sweeteners seem to exhibit negative effects linked to obesity and diabetes.”

What’s more is that acesulfame potassium appeared to accumulate in some of the rats’ blood systems, along with elevated levels of lipids and other fats.

The paper is being presented at the Experimental Biology 2018 conference in San Diego, where other experts will convene to discuss the issue. But Hoffman says much more research must be completed before a definitive verdict is handed down.

Despite the fact “most of these sweeteners were approved well before we had the technology to perform studies like my lab is doing,” Hoffman said it’s only when people “chronically consume” things like artificially-sweetened drinks that people should be concerned.

Reminder: in 2017, Food Standards Australia New Zealand gave its official verdict that aspartame was a-okay for human consumption as an artificial sweetener. Still, after Hoffman’s paper, expect to hear more about the issue.

Source: Gizmodo
Image: BSIP / Getty Images