Artificial Sweeteners, Not So Sweet

by Dr. Leo Galland


Artificial Sweeteners, Not So Sweet

It was heartening to see the editorial titled “Artificially Sweetened Beverages, Cause for Concern” in the December 8th issue of the usually conservative Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). The editorial, by Dr. David Ludwig of Harvard Medical School and the Boston Children’s Hospital warns about a dietary trend that I’ve been concerned about for 30 years: the use of artificial sweeteners.1


Dr. Ludwig cited the San Antonio Heart Study, which found that consuming diet soft drinks on a daily basis was associated with weight gain.2 Dr. Ludwig also cited the Mutli-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) study, which found that consuming diet soft drinks increased the risk of developing diabetes and the metabolic syndrome3. It’s important to note that people were drinking the diet soft drinks before they developed obesity or diabetes.


Dr. Ludwig explains that diet soft drinks might actually cause weight gain by disrupting the normal biochemical pathways that control hunger and feeding behavior. Laboratory animals fed saccharin, for example, increased their intake of calories because they lost their ability to adjust their caloric intake to how active they were or how much food they’d eaten. A study in rats found that saccharin was highly addictive and appeared to create a high demand for sweet tastes.


The editorial concluded that artificially sweetened beverages may be helpful in a transition from high calorie drinks to minimally sweetened drinks like water, tea and coffee. My experience is that people can make that transition without the aid of artificial sweeteners by using the recipes and following the guidelines in my book The Fat Resistance Diet.




1. Ludwig DS, Artificially Sweetened Beverages, Cause for Concern. JAMA 302: 2477-2478 (2009)
2. Fowler SK et al. Fueling the Obesity Epidemic? Artificially Sweetened Beverage Use and Long Term Weight Gain. Obesity 16: 1894-1900 (2008)
3. Nettleton et al. Diet soda intake and risk of incident metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes in the Mutli-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) . Diabetes Care 32: 688-694 (2009).


4 thoughts on “Artificial Sweeteners, Not So Sweet

  1. Kathy Williams

    Can’t wait to receive my book. I went from drinking about 6 diet cokes and 4 cups of coffee a day to NO diet cokes and one cup of coffee (with stevia) per day! I am drinking more water and green tea. It took about 4 weeks to get over my caffeine addiction, but I feel so much better for it. I used to have migraines every week, and now those are almost non-existant…. don’t know if it relates, but I feel better now! Thanks for the info!

  2. Linda Marek

    This was a great article….sums up the problem with artificail sweeteners in a ‘short and sweet’ manner. I’ve always believed that if you want something sweet, eat the real thing, just control the amount and frequency.

    Thank you for your insight!

  3. Merry L Miller ND

    I am also concerned with the artifical sweetners they are putting in sports powder muscle enhancement drinks with Sucralose and other nasty chemicals. We need to address this with everyone in the sports field.

  4. Lexie Gibbons

    I have been putting Truvia in my green tea or in Rooibos tea. Is using Truvia ok?

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