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New findings on artificial sweeteners in diet soda don’t mean you should switch to sodas sweetened with sugar or HFCS

Intriguing findings in a paper published in Nature raise questions about the effect of saccharin and other artificial sweeteners on people’s digestive tracts and the impact on blood sugar and metabolism.

What these chemicals do in digestive system needs to be studied further, said Lisa Lefferts, senior scientist for Center for Science in the Public Interest recently.

Consumers already have reasons to avoid saccharin and aspartame, and reasons to be cautious about sucralose, mainly because of evidence from animal studies that they may cause cancer, Lefferts said.

She said it would be a mistake to think that diet sodas are worse than drinks sweetened with sugar or high-fructose corn syrup. Diet-soda drinker shouldn’t interpret the new study as license to switch to regular soda.

“The study does not overturn the best studies that show that people who drink diet soda don’t have a higher risk of type 2 diabetes (unlike people who drink regular soda), and that people are more likely to gain weight on sugar-sweetened than diet beverages,” Lefferts said.

The risks from sugar drinks far out-weigh the new concerns raised in the Nature article about artificial sweeteners, she said.

Copyright 2014, Rita R. Robison, Consumer Specialist

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