According to new data from a presentation at the Endocrine Society in Chicago, low-calorie sweeteners may be causing a higher risk of metabolic disorder.
To collect this data, researchers from George Washington University in Washington D.C began analyzing the effects of the low-calorie sweetener sucralose on human stem cells. These stem cells come from fat tissue.
First, the researchers were able to mimic the normal concentration of sucralose found in the blood of people that drink large amounts of low-calorie sweeteners.
Then, while administering this sucralose concentration to the stem cells, the researchers began to notice an increase in the expression of genes that had links to inflammation and fat production.
In addition, in a separate study the researchers took biopsy samples of abdominal fat from people who were regularly consuming low-calorie sweeteners.
After analyzing the samples, the researchers did not find a significant increase in gene expression of participants of a healthy weight.
However, in participants who were either overweight or obese, the researchers found an overexpression of fat-producing and inflammation-inducing genes.
According to the researchers, these patterns in gene expression create conditions that may lead to metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome can then, in turn, lead to conditions such as prediabetes and diabetes.
As the study’s co-author Sabyasachi Sen states:
“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.”