Artificial Sweeteners, Weight Loss & Statistics

I could give you over a dozen examples of Macroholics clients who consume artificial sweeteners on a daily basis who have lost and kept off over 25 pounds. Would that convince you they are okay? IT SHOULDN’T! That evidence is ANECDOTAL. Basing your opinions on the experience of a small group/one individual is a horrible way to make lifestyle choices.

If I rounded up 100 examples of men who smoked more than 5 cigarettes a day for 10+ years and not one of them ever got lung cancer would you be convinced that smoking cigarettes doesn't cause lung cancer? I sure hope not! Based on a large 2014 European study, about 39% of heavy smokers will get lung cancer in their lifetime!

Did you believe that last stat and accept it as true? Well it isn’t! I just completely made up that statistic. For the love of all that is good and true, stop reading junk on the internet and consuming it mindlessly! What’s worse is, so many will hit that “SHARE” button with even less hesitation! Consider thinking before you mindlessly repeat/share what you read and hear.

To be clear, yes, smoking causes lung cancer but at the BARE MINIMUM you need to check the source of your information before regurgitating something your aunt shared on her Facebook page like a parrot. If you want some good info on smoking and lung cancer, you can find a good meta-analysis HERE.

The data can always be easily tweaked in your favor to bolster your opinion no matter what it is. Doing this well was how big tobacco was able to plead the 5th on the effects of their product for so long.

If see an article/news clip with the title, “Splenda Linked to Belly Fat, and Cancer!” Your first reaction shouldn’t be to jump to conclusions or change your lifestyle. It should be to ask questions!

What was the source of this study and who funded it? Was it the manufacturer of a competing product? Obviously there is going to be a potential for bias/false information there. We've seen this before and we will see it again. 

Did they even link the source at all? Was it some school and website you’ve never heard of with a weird web address? Was the study conducted on humans? (In case you didn’t know, you aren’t a mouse.) What was the sample size? How long was the study? How did they define the belly fat and cancer link? How strong was the link?

Artificial sweeteners are among the most studied food additives in the world. Despite literally hundreds of studies, all countries have approved them as safe for human consumption.

A “link” or “correlation” between a food product and a disease/disorder does not mean the food product is causing the problem. If you find a really strong link or correlation, it simply justifies more research to determine if the product is actually CAUSING the problem.

Anyone who has taken a statistics class understands that correlation does not equal causation.

Example: You can “correlate” or “link” snow cone consumption to sunburns. That doesn’t mean snow cones are causing people’s skin to burn. It means it’s hot outside and people like cold stuff when it’s hot.

Here are some other silly correlations: The more films Nicolas Cage appears in, in a year the more people drown in swimming pools. Same goes for divorce rates in Maine and margarine consumption in the U.S. Just Google it and you’ll find other hilarious examples. You can find a good list HERE.

Obese people might be more likely to drink diet soda. That doesn’t mean diet soda is the causing weight gain. It could just mean that obese people are aware of their condition and more likely to choose a beverage with artificial sweeteners. 

To have a respectable argument, you need causation. The only studies that meet this criteria with artificial sweeteners involve:

A.) Downright absurd doses of artificial sweeteners


B.) Mice

If you’re looking for a good breakdown explaining these studies in more detail WATCH THIS.

I hope this helps you develop a more sophisticated way to analyze information and over-generalized claims. I also hope it helps you realize that sucralose, aspartame, and saccharin probably aren’t making us fat or giving us cancer.

David Barnett