- Products saying ‘sugar-free’ or reduced sugar will contain artificial sweeteners
- Study involving 450,000 said consuming these higher your risk of dying young
- They can ‘over-stimulate our sugar receptors’ and warp our palates
- So we no longer enjoy eating foods that aren’t so sweet and have cravings
They are in thousands of products we slip into our grocery baskets each week — everything from ‘diet’ colas, soft drinks and yoghurts to chewing gum and toothpaste to slimming ready meals, cakes, ice creams and desserts.
You’ll find them in sachets to sweeten your tea and coffee. If you pick up any product labelled ‘sugar-free’, ‘reduced sugar’, or ‘low calorie’, it’s almost certain to contain them.
Yet this week the World Health Organisation delivered a bitter verdict on artificial sweeteners, with a study showing that just two glasses of diet drink a day increases the risk of early death.
The research, involving more than 450,000 adults in ten countries, revealed that the daily consumption of all soft drinks was linked to a higher risk of dying young. But an early death was significantly more likely with diet drinks — the ones that qualify for a green ‘traffic light’ label from the Government, meaning they are supposedly healthy because of their low sugar content.
So who should we believe? The World Health Organisation or the Government, which advises us that artificial sweeteners are good for us. To answer the question, we have to look at exactly what these sweeteners are.
Most are chemically synthesised food additives known as high-intensity sweeteners. They are compounds designed to elicit the same response from receptors on the tongue as the ‘sweet’ flavour we get from sugar. And they are hundreds of times more powerful.