Washington: The use of low calorie artificial or natural sweeteners by pregnant mothers leads to higher body fat levels in their offsprings, as revealed by a recent study. Such sweeteners have also been found to disrupt the gut microbiome of these children. The gut microbiome consists of microorganisms that inhabit our intestinal tract in trillions, which can influence our health and risk of numerous diseases.
The findings of this study — led by Dr. Raylene Reimer, Ph.D., which got published in the high-impact journal Gut — are of great significance as they shed a light on the impact of low-calorie sweeteners on the critical early years of life, particularly during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
“Low-calorie sweeteners are considered safe to consume during pregnancy and lactation, however evidence is emerging from human studies to suggest they may increase body weight and other cardiovascular risk factors,” says Reimer, a University of Calgary professor in the Faculty of Kinesiology, and Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology at the Cumming School of Medicine, and member of the Alberta Children’s Research
Institute. “Even stevia, which is hailed as a natural alternative to aspartame and other low-calorie artificial sweeteners, showed a similar impact on increasing offspring obesity risk in early life.”
Aspartame, an artificial sweetener, and stevia, a natural low-calorie sweetener extracted from a plant native to South America, are 200-400 times sweeter than sugar. Stevia, gaining popularity, was historically used in Paraguay and Brazil to treat diabetes and is an emerging ingredient in many natural products and protein drinks.