Diet soft drinks, sugar-free yoghurt, even the humble cup of tea: they’re supposed to help us lose weight, but could really be making us fat.
A study published in the journal Nature found instead of reducing blood sugar levels, artificial sweeteners actually increase them.
Researchers claim calorie-free sweeteners react with bacteria in the gut, causing blood glucose levels to rise - increasing the risk of Type Two diabetes.
Widespread use may even be contributing to the obesity epidemic, but not everyone is convinced.
"It's not the artificial sweeteners causing them to get fat, it's the fact they were overweight already and they are trying to do something about it," Professor Bruce Neal from The George Institute said.
The study’s authors stress they are not calling for people to make any changes to their diets just yet.
Instead, they’d like to see more research into artificial sweeteners to find out once and for all whether they’re good for us or not.
But when it comes to weight loss, there’s still no substitute for a healthy diet - rich in fruit and vegetables - and exercise.
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