Regular consumption of the artificial calorie-free sweetener sucralose causes animals to overeat

There are anecdotal stories from friends and relatives about diet sweeteners causing weight gain (from overeating) and also mental depression. Now comes a recent study involving some data about overeating caused by sucralose. “Non-nutritive” sweeteners such as sucralose are consumed by billions of people. Whereas animal and human studies have demonstrated a link between synthetic sweetener consumption and metabolic dysregulation, … the mechanisms responsible remain unknown.

 In the attached report, authors used a diet supplemented with sucralose to investigate the long-term effects of sweet/energy imbalance. In flies, chronic sweet/energy imbalance promoted hyperactivity, insomnia, glucose intolerance, enhanced sweet taste perception, and a feeling hungry (sustained increase in food and calories consumed)––effects that are reversed upon sucralose removal. Mechanistically, this response was mapped to the ancient insulin, catecholamine, and NPF/NPY (neuropeptide F/neuropeptide Y-like) systems and the energy sensor AMPK (5′-AMP-activated protein kinase), which together comprise a novel neuronal starvation response pathway.

Interestingly, chronic sweet/energy imbalance promoted increased food intake in mammals as well, and this also occurs through an NPY-dependent mechanism. Together,

these data show that chronic consumption of a sweet/energy imbalanced diet triggers a conserved neuronal fasting response and increases the motivation to eat.

Cell Metab  12 Jul 2o16; 24: 75–90

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