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Artificial sweeteners linked with weight gain

Two-thirds of Americans  are overweight , and those who diet sometimes turn to alternative sweeteners — including  aspartame sucralose  and  stevioside  — to cut calories.

Now, a new review of many studies suggests that doing so might not be the best idea.

The scientists took a comprehensive look at more than 11,000 studies and found that, for overweight individuals or those with  high blood pressure  (hypertension) or  diabetes , the benefits of consuming zero-calorie, "non-nutritive sweeteners" were modest to nil. For other people, there was an increased risk of weight gain, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, stroke and heart disease. [ 7 Biggest Diet Myths ]

"Overall, the evidence does not support the intended purpose of weight loss and suggests that there might be adverse effects in the long term," said Meghan Azad, lead author of the review and an assistant professor at the University of Manitoba.

Previous research had suggested that non-nutritive sweeteners were not the healthiest choice, but those studies were smaller in scope than the new review, and tended to focus on one outcome at a time, said Azad, who researches the development of chronic diseases.

"They would look only at weight gain, or only at diabetes," Azad told Live Science. "But we wanted to be really comprehensive and look at the whole panel of cardio-metabolic diseases."

To do so, Azad and her team screened 11,774 published papers, looking for studies that specifically evaluated the  consumption of non-nutritive sweeteners  in people ages 12 and older. Some of the studies that the researchers looked at were randomized controlled trials, which are the strongest type of scientific evidence. In the trials, half of the participants were asked to consume the alternative sweeteners and the other half were asked not to, and the scientists looked for differences between the groups. The researchers also looked at observational studies, where patients were asked if they used non-nutritive sweeteners.

Artificial sweeteners and body mass index

The team was primarily interested in how the sweeteners might be linked with people's body mass index, the measure of body fat based on weight in relation to height. But they were also interested in studies that reported on weight gain, obesity,  glucose metabolism , type 2 diabetes, hypertension and other heart- and kidney-related outcomes.

Based on these criteria, the researchers narrowed the number of published papers down to 37. Seven of these were randomized controlled trials lasting at least six months that followed a total of 1,003 people. The participants were overweight or had hypertension or diabetes at the start of the studies, and during the studies, they used the alternative sweeteners as part of a weight-loss plan. [ Diet and Weight Loss: The Best Ways to Eat ]

The other 30 studies were observational studies of people from the general population who were not necessarily overweight. Although the direct goal of these studies was not to specifically track the  effects of non-nutritive sweeteners , the participants were asked about their consumption of sweet substitutes. For these


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Last Updated Jul 18, 2017 10:18 AM EDT


Health care bill doomed again as 2 more Senate Republicans oppose it

Two more Republican senators announced late Monday that they oppose the second version of their own party's proposal to repeal and replace Obamacare, effectively dooming the legislation in its current form.

Sens. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Jerry Moran, R-Kansas, announced their opposition to the revamped Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) plan in statements and on social media. Lee argued that the bill doesn't get rid of Obamacare's taxes and regulations.

"In addition to not repealing all of the Obamacare taxes, it doesn't go far enough in lowering premiums for middle class families; nor does it create enough free space from the most costly Obamacare regulations," said Lee, who also opposed the original measure.

Lee said on Twitter that he and Moran would vote against a motion to proceed to the bill, which opens debate and the amendment process.

Similarly, Moran said in a separate statement that he's still in favor of repealing and replacing the 2010 health care law, but that the revised text is "bad policy" because doesn't deliver a full repeal or address rising health care costs.

This development brings the total number of Senate Republicans opposing the motion to proceed to four, which means that they would block the bill from advancing. Sens. Rand Paul , R-Kentucky, and Susan Collins , R-Maine, said last week that they would vote against the motion to proceed. In order to open debate on the bill and begin the amendment process, Senate Republicans need 51 votes to agree to a motion to proceed, with one being the Vice President's tie-breaking vote. The Senate has 52 Republicans and 48 Democrats, which means three GOP defections kills the bill.

This comes after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, announced Saturday that he would delay a vote this week on the revised health care bill. Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, will be absent as he recovers from surgery to remove a blood clot above his left eye.

President Trump, for his part, is hosting several Republican senators for dinner at the White House Monday evening to talk about the Senate health care bill , White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Monday.

The bill is not much different from the original: it would still end Obamacare's penalties for people who don't buy insurance, cut back an expansion of Medicaid and cuts to the entitlement program. Compared to the original version , the new measure includes several tax increases from Obamacare that were eliminated in the original bill: a 3.8 percent tax on net investment income, a 0.9 percent Medicare tax and a remuneration tax. It also includes $70 billion more than the first draft to help cover state-based health care reforms and an additional $45 billion to help states combat the opioid epidemic.

Meanwhile, half of people in the U.S. say they prefer Obamacare over replacement plans proposed by Republicans , according to a Washington Post/ABC News poll released Sunday. The poll found 50 percent of people say they prefer Obamacare compared to 24 percent

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