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20th May 2018 Latest News

Artificial Sweeteners Not So Sweet for Type 2 Diabetics

Chris Rayner and Richard Young

Are artificial sweeteners friend or foe for type 2 diabetes sufferers? Researchers from the Royal Adelaide Hospital are set to find out.

Kidney, Transplant and Diabetes Research Australia (KTDRA) is proud to be a charitable affiliate of The Hospital Research Foundation (THRF), which recently provided funding to Professor Chris Rayner and Associate Professors Richard Young and Geraint Rogers to determine if artificial sweeteners contribute to, rather than alleviate type 2 diabetes.

“Type 2 diabetes is a modern epidemic, but effective control of blood glucose can reduce its incidence and progression,” Prof Rayner said.

“Artificial sweeteners are generally viewed as ‘inert’, and it is assumed that replacing sugar with artificial sweeteners will reduce the risk of diabetes and obesity. We’ve discovered that diets high in artificial sweeteners enhance absorption of glucose from the gut and worsen blood sugar control in healthy people.”

Having shown how artificial sweeteners can increase a healthy person’s risk of type 2 diabetes, the world-class team are now setting out to test whether these same sweeteners also impact blood glucose control in diabetes sufferers.

“Our research will show how the gut detects and signals the presence of artificial sweeteners. It will also prove for the first time whether sweeteners alter gut bacteria in a way that impairs blood glucose control in type 2 diabetes sufferers, and we’ll compare this with healthy people.”

Prof Rayner and A/Profs Young and Rogers are confident their research will change the lives of type 2 diabetes sufferers both now and in the future.

“Our study findings will drive public health policy on artificial sweetener consumption to reduce the global incidence and burden of type 2 diabetes. In the long term, around five to 10 years, our findings will have high potential to lead to new antidiabetic medications that target the mechanisms we are investigating,” Prof Rayner said.

KTDRA is committed to working with THRF to fund more lifesaving projects like this that are making a difference in our community. It’s only with kind donor support that we can fund research dedicated to eliminating these debilitating chronic diseases.