- Low-calorie sweeteners like sucralose cause diabetes in obese people.
- Sucralose increased the expression of genes that promoted fat production and inflammation .
- The sweeteners promote oxygen radical accumulation in cells that interfere with cell activity and slow down metabolism.
Intake of low-calorie sweeteners by obese people promotes metabolic syndrome and leads to the predisposition of prediabetes and diabetes, finds new study conducted on fat driven stem cells. The findings of the study were presented on March 18, at ENDO 2018, the 100th annual meeting of the Endocrine Society in Chicago, Ill.
Metabolic syndrome is a group of risk factors that includes high blood sugar, high blood pressure, increased cholesterol levels and abdominal fat which affects the blood vessels and causes strokes and heart attacks. This syndrome increases the risk of diabetes by three to five times.
"Our stem cell-based studies indicate that low-calorie sweeteners promote additional fat accumulation within cells compared with cells not exposed to these substances, in a dose-dependent fashion--meaning that as the dose of sucralose is increased more cells showed increased fat droplet accumulation," said Sabyasachi Sen, M.D., Associate Professor of Medicine at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. This condition mostly occurs due to the excess glucose entry into the cells by the increased activity of glucose transporter genes.
He noted these findings are of greatest concern for people who have obesity and prediabetes or diabetes, since they are already at heightened risk of heart attacks and strokes. "We think the effect is more pronounced in overweight and obese people rather than their normal weight counterparts because they have more insulin resistance and may have more glucose in their blood," he said.
Researchers tested Sucralose (a common low calorie sweetener) present in the stem cells, that were isolated from human fat tissues.These cells were placed in Petri dishes for 12 days in media that promotes fat production in order to mimic the environment that promotes obesity.
The results showed that 0.2-millimolar dose of sucralose increased the expression of genes that promoted fat production and inflammation.
Using these results, the scientists conducted a separate experiment. They analyzed the biopsy samples of abdominal fat obtained from 18 individuals who consumed low-calorie sweeteners (mainly sucralose).
Among the 18 individuals, four of them had normal weight and fourteen of them were obese. In healthy weight individuals the gene expression did not show any change. However, the genes of obese individuals were over expressed and it increased glucose transport into the cells.
Sen previously conducted the same study on a total of eight subjects with similar results. "Because we found the same results with the, larger sample size, we have much more confidence that low-calorie sweeteners are causing metabolic dysfunction," Sen said.
Sen conducted a new cell culture study and found that sucralose promotes oxygen radical accumulation in the cells. These are highly reactive particles that can cause disease and inflammation inside the cell. They also interfere with cell activity and slows down the metabolism that leads to the accumulation of fat in the cells. This study provides information of how low-calorie sweeteners like sucralose affect metabolism.
Diabetes is long term condition that increases blood sugar level. The most common symptoms of diabetes are frequent urination, unusual weight loss, intense thirst, and fatigue. The condition can be diagnosed by doing different blood tests like, Fasting plasma glucose (FPG) test, A1C test and Random plasma glucose (RPG) test.
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Shravanthi Vikram. "Low-calorie Sweeteners can Cause Diabetes in Obese People". Medindia. https://www.medindia.net/news/healthwatch/low-calorie-sweeteners-cause-diabetes-in-obese-people-178019-1.htm. (accessed Aug 18, 2022).
Shravanthi Vikram. 2021. Low-calorie Sweeteners can Cause Diabetes in Obese People. Medindia, viewed Aug 18, 2022, https://www.medindia.net/news/healthwatch/low-calorie-sweeteners-cause-diabetes-in-obese-people-178019-1.htm.