When the inevitable craving for sugar strikes, sometimes it seems like the healthier option to choose the “diet” variety of that sweet drink or snack. Getting a swift sugar kick while consuming fewer calories seems like a no-brainer! But now there’s new evidence to back up the idea that they might not be the healthy alternative we all thought.
In a study published by the medical journal Cell Metabolism, and led by the University of Sydney and the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, teams studied groups of fruit flies and mice who were given a diet of food sweetened with sucralose (which is sweeter than sugar). They discovered that, when exposed to high quantities of artificial sweetener, the animals felt hungrier, and therefore actually ate more food.
According to Professor Greg Neely in the Faculty of Science department at the University of Sydney, that’s because the brain senses the sweetness and energy, and is able to identify when things are out of balance. “The brain recalibrates and increases total calories consumed.”
Basically, the scientists found, consuming food or drink with artificial sweeteners doesn’t trick your body in the way you want it to, so your body thinks you have more energy from the non-sugar and because of that, makes you hungrier.
Of course, this idea has been touched upon before, but it’s good to be aware of the research that is continuing. Next time you feel like a (fake) sugary snack, you might reconsider your options.