Artificial sweeteners are linked to weight gain and obesity says a new study. How new is this study? I heard these same study results in 1992. Now it’s all over the TV news and Internet and it’s presented as new information. It’s not new information because we heard it before, more than 20 years ago. That makes it recycled news, doesn’t it?
Dennis Thompson, HealthDay reporter published an article explaining the findings and the ramifications of the findings. It’s a big, long article. Many readers only scan headlines and think they have the whole story. Many news presentations only read the headlines and leave the viewers thinking they know the whole story.
Often there is a lot more to the story than the headline, but when people react to the headline without learning the facts they make mistakes. Here is an example.
“… the combined data from 30 observational studies involving more than 400,000 participants showed that artificial sweeteners are associated with obesity, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and heart health problems. Observational studies cannot prove a cause-and-effect relationship, however.
What matters here aren’t the combined data and the declaration, “that artificial sweeteners are associated with obesity, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and heart health problems.” Observational studies cannot prove a cause-and-effect relationship, however.
What matters is, “observational studies cannot prove a cause-and-effect relationship.” How much does that matter? It matters a lot especially if you’re going to change what you’re doing to lose weight based on the “new study that links artificial sweeteners to obesity and other ills.
If you heard the warning about artificial sweeteners and you’re alarmed because you do use them to reduce calories without giving up sweet drinks, you should read Dennis Thompson’s entire HealthDay article. Then instead of making a hasty decision based on incomplete information, you can make an informed decision based on a better understanding of all of the information.
If you’re like me you may become skeptical and start to think of ways that such dramatic headlines can sway public opinion. Moreover, how can this kind of reporting be used to justify a change in public policy, or a new tax such as the sugary beverage tax?
I don’t have any proof that these stories are planted to promote general acceptance of the idea of not only taxing the sugary drinks, but also taxing drinks sweetened with artificial sweeteners because they’re just as responsible for making people obese as do the drinks with sugar. I have no proof but it is proven that demonizing a food is a good way to galvanize the public to take action to stop people from eating it as often, or at least inject a healthy guilt into those who indulge.
So getting back to the point about sweeteners and weight, I lost 40 pounds 26 years ago. I drank diet soda as part of my weight loss plan. Today I am maintaining my weight loss and I’m still drinking diet soda. I don’t drink a lot of it; I didn’t drink a lot of it when I was losing weight. When I wanted soda, however, I saved myself 140 calories for every 12 oz. cola by drinking sodas sweetened with artificial sweeteners.
It helped me to lose weight. It might be helping you to lose weight too. Don’t stop if it’s working for you just because of the headlines you’re hearing. Sometimes it’s a good idea to do something differently if it’s not helping you to lose weight. Sometimes you do something that helps, but the side effects or potential for health problems isn’t worth continuing to use that strategy or consume a food product.
Before you dump your diet drinks down the drain and trash your sugar-free candies, consider the alternatives. Do you want to stop drinking or eating some foods altogether? If you revert back to eating the sugar-sweetened and therefore higher-calorie version of some foods, where will you cut back on calories to avoid increasing your daily calorie intake, which can interfere with your weight loss progress? Are you willing to increase your exercise in order to burn those extra calories?
See? There is more to it than just quickly reacting to a study. Do some research. Read beyond the headline. Find out what you need to know first, then, decide what is the right choice for you.