Artificial sweeteners are not the answer to childhood obesity. - PubMed - NCBI

While no single factor is responsible for the recent, dramatic increases
in overweight and obesity, a scientific consensus has emerged
suggesting that consumption of sugar-sweetened products, especially
beverages, is casually linked to increases in risk of chronic,
debilitating diseases including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease,
hypertension and stroke. One approach that might be beneficial would be
to replace sugar-sweetened items with products manufactured with
artificial sweeteners that provide sweet tastes but with fewer calories.
Unfortunately, evidence now indicates that artificial sweeteners are
also associated with increased risk of the same chronic diseases linked
to sugar consumption. Several biologically plausible mechanisms may
explain these counterintuitive negative associations. For example,
artificial sweeteners can interfere with basic learning processes that
serve to anticipate the normal consequences of consuming sugars, leading
to overeating, diminished release of hormones such as GLP-1, and
impaired blood glucose regulation. In addition, artificial sweeteners
can alter gut microbiota in rodent models and humans, which can also
contribute to impaired glucose regulation. Use of artificial sweeteners
may also be particularly problematic in children since exposure to
hyper-sweetened foods and beverages at young ages may have effects on
sweet preferences that persist into adulthood. Taken as a whole, current
evidence suggests that a focus on reducing sweetener intake, whether
the sweeteners are caloric or non-caloric, remains a better strategy for
combating overweight and obesity than use of artificial sweeteners.

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