Studies in both animals and humans have suggested that consuming artificial sweeteners can make you feel hungry and actually eat more. A comprehensive new study co-led by the University of Sydney has revealed for the first time why this response occurs.
Published today in the prestigious journal Cell Metabolism, the results shed light on the effects of artificial sweeteners on the brain in regulating appetite and in altering taste perceptions.
Researchers from the University of Sydney's Charles Perkins Centre and the Garvan Institute of Medical Research have identified a new system in the brain that senses and integrates the sweetness and energy content of food.
In the study, fruit flies that were exposed to a diet laced with artificial sweetener for prolonged periods (more than five days) were found to consume 30 percent more calories when they were then given naturally sweetened food.
Billions of people worldwide consume artificial sweeteners and they are prescribed as a tool to treat obesity, despite little being known until now about their full impact on the brain and in regulating hunger.
This is the first study to identify how artificial sweeteners can stimulate appetite, with researchers identifying a complex neuronal network that responds to artificially sweetened food by telling the animal it hasn't eaten enough energy.
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