The brain isn't fooled by artificial sweeteners.
Eating low-calorie products that contain artificial sweeteners may lead to seeking high-calorie alternatives later, suggests recent research that appeared on Sept. 23, 2013 in The Journal of Physiology. The researchers say that the brain receives a "reward" signal when sugar is broken down and provides energy that may be used as fuel by the body's cells; the same signal is not sent when artificial sweeteners are consumed, since they provide no calories--energy--for fuel. In the study, hungry mice given a choice between artificial sweeteners and sugar eventually chose only sugar, even if the artificial sweetener was much sweeter than the sugar. The researchers said their findings are likely to reflect a similar process in human brains, although further study is needed. They also suggest that combining artificial sweeteners with small amounts of sugar might trigger the "reward" signal even though fewer calories are being consumed.