Health Sachet No 317:

Using artificial sweeteners, such as sucralose (brand name Splenda), in place of sugar is considered a healthy move because of the ill-effects of sugar.

However, some studies in both animals and humans had suggested that consuming artificial sweeteners can make you feel hungry and actually eat more. But it was not known why.

A recent study from University of Sydney has revealed, for the first time, why this response occurs.

Regularly eating sucralose-containing food triggers increased food intake. But the results need to be interpreted properly. Else, one can draw wrong conclusions.

In our brains, sweetness of food is connected with energy. When we eat something sweet, the brain knows that the body is getting a lot of calories.

When you eat something sweet, but that sweet food is low in calories, such as is the case with foods containing artificial sweeteners, over a long time, the brain wisens up and recalibrates sweetness with low calories and so increases overall motivation to eat more food.

Some reading-between-the-lines:

  • This will apply to all artificial sweeteners and not just sucralose, that was used in the study.
  • Either you do not eat anything sweet, or if you do, make sure the sweet food is high in calories (read, contains regular sugar). So, definitely no artificial sweeteners in place of regular sugar.
  • This change in brain happens over a period of time. So, artificial sweeteners, once in a while, should be fine.

Artificial sweeteners are worse than sugar, over a long period of time, to help control calorie intake.