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Artificial sweeteners may trigger fullness hormones

By Stephen Daniells , 07-Jan-2010

The artificial sweetener sucralose may work together with glucose to stimulate the release of a protein that promotes a feeling of fullness, says new research from the US.

A synergistic effect between sucralose and glucose was observed to trigger the release of the appetite-suppressing hormone glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), scientists from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases at the US National Institutes of Health report in Diabetes Care.

The GLP-1 stimulating effects were not observed with pure oral glucose or artificial sweeteners, and the effects have not been reported previously in humans. This observation that led the researchers to conclude that the sweetener works with glucose to trigger GLP-1 release.

It is too early to draw any firm conclusions for everyday food formulations, with more research needed to elucidate the effects of different artificial sweeteners in diet sodas, said the scientists. Investigations should also focus on how this synergistic effect may influence metabolism and weight, they added.

The use of sweeteners in food and beverage products is widespread and has gathered yet more pace as food firms seek to deliver healthier products, with less sugar, to consumers. According to Leatherhead International, the global market for sweeteners was worth US$1.83bn in 2007.

Study details

Rebecca Brown and her co-workers recruited 22 health volunteers with an average age of 18.5, and subjected them to randomly receive diet soda or carbonated water (240 ml) 10 minutes before consuming 75 grams of glucose.

For three hours following consumption, the researchers measured levels of glucose, insulin, and GLP-1, and found that GLP-1 levels were significantly higher following consumption of the diet soda and glucose than after the carbonated water and glucose. No significant differences were observed in glucose or insulin levels between the groups.

The effects were also observed following consumption of smaller amounts of artificial sweeteners, said the scientists.

Although more research is required to elucidate the mechanism, Brown and her co-workers proposed that receptors in the cut called L-cells may be stimulated by the sucralose-glucose combination.

Source: Diabetes Care
Volume 32, Number 12, Pages 2184-2186, doi: 10.2337/dc09-1185
“Ingestion of Diet Soda Before a Glucose Load Augments Glucagon-Like Peptide-1 Secretion”
Authors: R.J. Brown, M. Walter, K.I. Rother

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