Artificial sweeteners may increase risk of type 2 diabetes

Image: Getty Images
Image: Getty Images

Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body doesn't produce enough insulin to function properly, or the body's cells don't react to insulin. The condition is often associated with obesity and older people, with symptoms including feeling very thirsty, very tired and the need to pass urine more often than usual.

Previous studies have indicated that habitual consumption of large amounts of non-caloric artificial sweeteners (NAS) lead to type 2 diabetes, but Australian researchers have now set out to prove the connection.

University of Adelaide academics recruited 27 healthy subjects who were given a quantity of two different NAS (sucralose and acesulfame-K), roughly the equivalent to drinking 1.5L of diet beverage per day, or an inactive placebo. These were consumed in the form of capsules taken three times a day before meals over the two-week period of the study.

At the end of the two weeks, subjects had their response to glucose tested, with glucose absorption, plasma glucose and levels of insulin and gut peptides examined.

Accordingly, the team found that NAS supplementation caused an increase in measures of the body's response to glucose.

Just two weeks of NAS supplementation was enough to enhance glucose absorption and increase the magnitude of the response of blood glucose as a result.

The authors concluded, "This study supports the concept that artificial sweeteners could reduce the body's control of blood sugar levels and highlights the potential for exaggerated post-meal glucose levels in high habitual NAS users, which could predispose them to developing type 2 diabetes".

The full study results will be presented during the annual meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) in Lisbon, Portugal.

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