Sweet enough

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Sweet enough
World over, there is a general perception that consuming sweeteners and substituting them for sugar can help in maintaining good health, and also lose weight. Latest research proves that this is in fact a myth.

According to researchers, the regular use of sweeteners and additives can lead to metabolic imbalances, and consequently cause obesity, diabetes and other disorders. There are studies that indicate that these additives can cause heart diseases and even lead to incidences of strokes. Studies also show that while individuals use sweeteners and additives to lose weight, somewhere there is a consistent urge to consume more sweet.

Endocrinologists endorse this viewpoint that while diabetes patients are advised to avoid the intake of sugar, use of artificial sweeteners or substitute sugars is also not recommended. They believe that artificial sweeteners like aspartame, sucralose and saccharin may not be as good as one thinks.

Advertisements seem to sell the idea that sweeteners help in weight loss, as the products are low in calories. They are styled to make the consumers believe that weight loss because of sweeteners will boost their looks and consequently, their confidence and market value. However, the data to support such claims are not validated.

With urbanisation comes growing demand for processed foods or ready-to-eat meals that are quicker to prepare and easier to serve. The demand for such foods has grown by 12% in the recent times, and it is expected to drive the food additives market in India over the next five years. This could prove to be alarming, as it will only lead to an increase in the number of lifestyle disorders.

Research reveals that the Indian food additives market shows a significant use of artificial flavours in beverages, cereals and savoury segments. The sweeteners and additives market is set for a considerably large growth, and will emerge as the leading player in the industry by 2020.

Artificial sweeteners are linked to an increased risk of obesity, Type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular diseases. Drinking one can of soda a day is enough to increase the chances of developing any one of these disorders. Artificial sweeteners are also shown to activate different patterns in brain’s pleasure centres. This goes to show that these products do not give the same satisfaction as natural sugars. This results in overeating of sugary substances to curb the urge for natural sugars, causing weight gain.

All in all, we can conclude that too much of anything can pose alarming health concerns, and consumption of these foods should be restricted to moderate quantities.

(The author is a senior consultant Endocrinologist at Columbia Asia Referral Hospital, Yeshwanthpur.)

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