Casting doubt on the benefit of low-calorie sweeteners, research released Sunday reported that rats on diets containing saccharin gained more weight than rats given sugary food.
Researchers have puzzled over whether diet soda is a marker for poor eating habits or diet soda ingredients cause people to put on pounds, she said. "This rat study suggests a component of the artificial sweetener may be responsible for the weight gain."
An industry group rejected Sunday's report.
In the experiment, funded by the National Institutes of Health and by Purdue, nine rats received yogurt sweetened with saccharin and eight rats received yogurt sweetened with glucose, which is close in composition to table sugar. After receiving their yogurt snack, the animals were given their usual chow.
At the end of five weeks, rats that had been fed sugar-free yogurt gained an average of 88 grams, compared with 72 grams for rats that dined on glucose-sweetened yogurt