Saccharin is an artificial sweetener or sugar substitute. It is one of the five approved sugar substitutes that have been approved for use in the United States of America.
A little history lesson here. There were health controversies that surrounded the meat-packing industry in 1906 that led to the implementation of the Pure Food and Drug Act in the same year. Just merely a year later in 1907, the United States Department of Agriculture began investigating saccharin and it had not ceased till today. This is evident when the Los Angeles Times reported today that Saccharin may lead to weight gain.
Here are the claims of the article (rats and humans were used in various experiments and observations):
- Rats on diets containing saccharin gained more weight than rats given glucose
- Saccharin appeared to break the physiological connection between sweet tastes and calories, driving the rats to overeat
- Diet soda may well be the reason behind people’s poor eating habits
- Lyn M. Steffen claimed that people who drank diet sodas had a higher chance of becoming obese, than people who drank regular soda
- Food and beverage industries rejected that claim, stating that causes of obesity are multi-factorial (An increase in food portions & decrease in physical activity)
I particularly liked what Adam Drewnowski said at the end of the article:
“We now have studies showing that sugar calories are associated with obesity and the absence of sugar is associated with obesity. Pity those people trying to do something about obesity.”
There is also a survey done by the Calorie Control Council (in 1998) that showed an increase in people’s intake of sugar-free food and beverages. A 2007 survey (see article here) by the council found that the highest number of Americans in the past 15 years, 71 million, or 33% of the population, are currently on a diet.
When will this struggle ever end? My stand is to eat whatever your heart desires…only then will you cease all cravings for an extensive amount of soda or resort to diet soda… which most likely contains saccharin…which in turn might lead to obesity.
Saccharin is only a blessing to diabetics who cannot afford sugar and might want a sweet “treat” once in awhile. It is however a curse to the rest of us who consume it because it helps us in “dieting”. This totally takes out the gulit in me to reach out for another regular coke. :) What do you think?