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What regulates artificial sweetener intake?

01 / 03 / 16

Tellez LA, Ren X, Han W, Medina S, Ferreira JG, Yeckel CW, de Araujo IE. Glucose utilization rates regulate intake levels of artificial sweeteners. J Physiol. 2013 Nov 15;591(Pt 22):5727-44

This study aimed to explore why artificial sweeteners don’t appear to satisfy as much as caloric sweeteners. Using a neurobiology mouse model the researchers explored the effect on the brain reward centre, the dorsal striatum, of a glucose solution vs artificial non-caloric sweetener.

Researchers found the glucose solution evoked a greater feeding response than artificially sweetened non caloric solution, even when the glucose was masked with an unpleasant taste. Even hungry mice were not interested in the artificially sweetened solution.  

These results show the dorsal striatum responds to energy content of food rather than just sweetness. This may explain why humans are hardwired to seek sweet foods – not because they are sweet, but because they are energy dense.