Artificial genius

Here’s yet another “genius” announcement from two groups we would all do better without–the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American Diabetes Association (ADA).

They have issued a joint scientific statement giving a cautious recommendation to the use of non-nutritive sweeteners to help people maintain a healthy body weight and for diabetics to aid glucose control.

Don’t they know we already eat over 20 pounds per person per year of these artificial chemicals? And look where that strategy has gotten us!

I’m amazed they still don’t understand that artificial sweeteners cause the same reactions in the body as sugar. Artificial sweeteners DO NOT satisfy hunger. They DO NOT take away your desire for sugar. And they tend to set up the same blood sugar reaction as real sugar.

Why put chemicals into your body if it isn’t going to accomplish anything?

And because the ADA hasn’t a clue, they went and lumped stevia in with the artificial chemicals: aspartame, acesulfame-K, neotame, saccharin, and sucralose.

The new report didn’t even address the safety concerns of the sweeteners. While there is no concern with the use of stevia, there’s not nearly enough conclusive evidence on the safety of the others. Isn’t anyone else worried about cancer?

And as for any potential health benefits of artificial sweeteners–less risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and gout as compared to real sugar–the report even pointed out the research is weak and inconclusive. So why recommend them at all?

Of course, this may actually be the first time these groups have come out and admitted that curbing sugar may be beneficial for diabetics. Yet, they haven’t gone so far as to publicly denounce their own ADA diet. (Although they have done it quietly.)

But the real concern in all of this is that just replacing sugar with artificial sweeteners leaves a person, especially children, conditioned to high levels of sweetness. Which is likely to influence their food choices in the long run. And not for the better.

The only good thing that comes out of this statement of course is that it does remind us that limiting added sugars is an important strategy for supporting optimal nutrition, healthy weight, and healthy blood-sugar levels.

Bottom line is that we all have to lower our sweet tolerance.

“Nonnutritive Sweeteners: Current Use and Health Perspectives: A Scientific Statement from the American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association,” Circulation 2012; July 9 (epub ahead of print)