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Can artificial sweeteners cause weight gain? © Getty

Can artificial sweeteners cause weight gain?

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There is some debate around whether artificial sweeteners contribute to an increasing waistline.

Asked by: Ciaran Scanlon, Kildare, Ireland

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The evidence on this is conflicting. Long-term studies with large sample sizes have found a correlation between artificial sweeteners and weight gain, but these tend to rely on diet questionnaires, which aren’t accurate. They also can’t say whether, for example, diet soda makes you fat, or overweight people are more likely to drink diet soda.

A 2016 report by health charity Cochrane evaluated the results of lots of more rigorous short-term trials, and concluded that artificial sweeteners actually help with weight loss by replacing sugar calories with non-calorie alternatives.

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luis villazon
Luis VillazonQ&A expert

Luis trained as a zoologist, but now works as a science and technology educator. In his spare time he builds 3D-printed robots, in the hope that he will be spared when the revolution inevitably comes.

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