Replacing sugar with artificial sweeteners used in Diet Coke and other soft drinks has no effect on weight loss, a major scientific review has found.
Researchers reviewed 56 studies and found “no evidence was seen for health benefits from sweeteners” and said “potential harms could not be excluded”.
Some studies suggested that switching to artificial sweeteners could actually cause weight gain – but this effect was of “low or very low certainty”.
Dr Joerg Meerpohl said: “While some studies report an association between sweetener use and reduced obesity and risk of type 2 diabetes (thus suggesting a benefit for general health and the management of diabetes), other studies suggest that sweetener use could increase the risk of weight gain, diabetes and cancer.”
Researchers from Ben Gurion university tested six commonly used sugar substitutes such as aspartame, sucralose on saccharine on bacteria.
Professor Ariel Kushmaro said they found evidence that consumption of artificial sweeteners “adversely affects gut microbial activity which can cause a wide range of health issues”.
The researchers found that the chemicals had a toxic, stressing effect.
They added that just having one or two artificially sweetened drinks per day could affect gut bacteria – making it harder to process sugar and other carbohydrates.