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The Role of Sweeteners in Weight Gain Coursework

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Updated: Jun 3rd, 2022

Introduction

Obesity is a health disorder that manifests itself through excessive weight gain by an individual due to too much consumption of carbohydrates and fats. Scientists have carried out various research studies and have recommended that substitution of sugar like glucose and sweeteners like saccharin would result in a dramatic loss of weight, hence good for obese people. On contrary, psychologists have used animal models to disapprove the findings that sweeteners reduce weight and give a conclusion that they increase weight. Now the controversy rages on whether sweeteners increase or reduce weight as claimed by the respective proponents. Psychological studies indicate that “…the ability to maintain energy balance and body weight is dependent on Pavlovian conditioning” (Davidson & Swithers, 2004, p. 934). The findings suggest that wisdom of the body is a link between sensation and response of the body to food. Therefore, how do sweeteners outwit the wisdom of the body and cause obesity?

Research

Although claims are supporting that sweeteners reduce weight, an extensive literature review by 1978 showed that there was no scientific evidence to prove that sweeteners reduce weight. Analysis of epidemiological data confirms that sweeteners are responsible for weight gain, while psychological studies show that sweeteners increase appetite and thus weight gain. According to the Pavlovian explanation of the mechanism of sweeteners, the sensation of food intricately links with the subsequent physiological reactions. “If those links are disrupted, the ability to regulate energy intake, use, and body weight is disrupted …the artificial sweeteners outwit the wisdom of the body by breaking the link…” (Bartoshuk, 2009, p. 4). To prove the effect of sweeteners on weight, the use of animal models is very effective since there is no selection bias as compared to human models.

Models

Statistical studies were carried out in the United States to determine the role of sweeteners in weight gain. A graph depicting the relationship between consumption of sweetened soft drinks and prevalence of obesity showed that “consumption of artificial-sweetened beverages and the prevalence of overweight and obesity have both increased during similar time frames” (Bartoshuk, 2009, p. 4). The positive correlation does not differentiate between the dependent and the independent variables, hence the use of animal models gives robust findings. Conclusive research done on rats: one group fed with yogurt-glucose diet and the other yogurt-saccharin diet demonstrated that “…the yogurt and saccharin rats not only consumed more calories, but they also failed to radiate some of those calories away as heat” (Bartoshuk, 2009, p. 5). Therefore, it suffices to conclude that, sweeteners increase appetite and reduce heat radiation from the body thus causing weight gain in an individual.

Conclusion

The conflicting research findings by scientists showing that sweeteners are very useful in losing weight, while others claim that they cause obesity raises great ethical concerns about the credibility of scientists. Contrasting scientific results beg more questions as to whether scientists do have the integrity to mind about the health of the people or they have turned themselves into business scientists. According to Lesser & Ludwig (2007), “…a given scientist’s work favors the industry that funded the work and the industry can differentially fund those scientists whose work favor their interests” (p. 13). Therefore, if scientists’ findings depend on the industry that funded the research, then it means that many scientific results are a product of doctored statistics to suit their desired ends. In the case of sweeteners, it is beyond doubt that they cause obesity but due to the unethical and biased studies by the scientists, the results are manipulated to suit a given group of people.

References

Bartoshuk, L. (2009). Artificial Sweeteners: Outwitting the Wisdom of the Body. Association for Psychological Science, 22(8): 1-7.

Davidson, T., & Swithers, A. (2004). A Pavlovian approach to the Problem of Obesity. International Journal of Obesity, 933-935.

Lesser, L., & Ludwig, D. (2007). Relationship between Funding Source and Scientific Findings. National Center for Health Statistics, 12-15.

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IvyPanda. "The Role of Sweeteners in Weight Gain." June 3, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-role-of-sweeteners-in-weight-gain/.

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IvyPanda. 2022. "The Role of Sweeteners in Weight Gain." June 3, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-role-of-sweeteners-in-weight-gain/.

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IvyPanda. (2022) 'The Role of Sweeteners in Weight Gain'. 3 June.

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