It goes without saying that the root of most, if not all, of the obesity and type 2 diabetes in the US and other Westernized industrial countries is due to the consumption of too much carbohydrate (sugar for those of you less scientifically inclined, no disrespect intended at all).
And just to be sure the issue is NOT the consumption of too much high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). For more of the scientific specifics of that statement read up on fructose metabolism in my website:
HFCS is only, at most, 55% fructose. That is only 5% more than in, what the food packaging industry calls, "natural sugar" which is the disaccharide sucrose which is 50% glucose and 50% fructose. The play here is that the consumer thinks it's better for them so they are willing to pay more for it. The issue is not fructose, per se, it is TOO MUCH total carbohydrate intake. Too much of what we eat is artificially sweetened, making us FAT!!!
So what are the alternatives?? Well of course self control and a changed life style are the true paths to healthy living but we all know that most people can't, or won't, change. They prefer to get an anti-fat pill, not that one even exists. Food manufacturers then choose to use artificial sweeteners, some of which have toxicities that limit their use, or they are used and the toxicities are only discovered after people start getting sick and dying.
There are several non-nutritive sweeteners which are defined as such because the body senses them as being sweet through taste buds in the mouth but the digestive system cannot digest them so they are just excreted in the feces, and thus, do not contribute to caloric intake. Sucralose (trade name Splenda) is a perfect example of this type of sweetener. Sucralose is sucrose where some of the hydroxyl (-OH) groups in the glucose and fructose molecules are inodinated.
New evidenced published in the esteemed journal Cell Metabolism has demonstrated that consumption of sucralose, while itself not contributing to caloric intake, does indeed disturb the brain signals that regulate feeding behavior:
For background information on the mechanisms the brain uses to control ones desire to seek out food and consume food go to the Gut-Brain Interrelationships page of my website:
The result of this recently published study were obtained in fruit flies and in mice but because the circuitry in the mouse brain that controls feeding behavior is highly similar to those circuits in the human brain these studies indicate profoundly important consequences of sucralose consumption. To be fair, this is not the first study to demonstrate that the consumption of artificial sweeteners enhances ones appetite, but this current study goes a long way to dissecting the molecular mechanisms that are functioning in the context of artificial sweetener consumption. The data from this report defines the mechanism whereby an imbalance of sweetness versus caloric content in ones diet leads to the activation a powerful fasting state which triggers a sensory and behavioral response that drives a desire to increase caloric intake, in other words a desire to eat more. The molecular mechanism of this response include neurotransmitters in the hypothalamus (specifically the potent food intake inducer, NPY), neural insulin receptor-mediated responses, and the master metabolic regulatory enzyme AMPK (AMP-regulated protein kinase). AMPK controls the energy status of the body by responding to changes in the level of ATP, as would occur in the fasted state. AMPK is able to do this through its ability to turn off ATP consuming reactions and turn on ATP producing reactions within the periphery and controlling feeding behavior processes in the brain. Ingestion of a sucralose-containing diet activates AMPK in the hypothalamus resulting in increased NPY synthesis and a consequent increase in the desire to consume food.
The take home from this study is really a "no brainer": choosing to forego changes in the types and amounts of food one eats while simultaneously thinking that consuming that low-cal food or artificially sweetened soda is the key to weight loss is actually doing more harm than good and just contributing to the obesity and type 2 diabetes with which one may already be suffering. Eat RIGHT, exercise and guess what?? You will save THOUSANDS of dollars in health care costs.