Kenneth Chang in The New York Times:
Artificial sweeteners may disrupt the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar, causing metabolic changes that can be a precursor to diabetes, researchers are reporting. That is “the very same condition that we often aim to prevent” by consuming sweeteners instead of sugar, said Dr. Eran Elinav, an immunologist at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, at a news conference to discuss the findings. The scientists performed a multitude of experiments, mostly on mice, to back up their assertion that the sweeteners alter the microbiome, the population of bacteria that is in the digestive system. The different mix of microbes, the researchers contend, changes the metabolism of glucose, causing levels to rise higher after eating and to decline more slowly than they otherwise would.
The findings by Dr. Elinav and his collaborators in Israel, including Eran Segal, a professor of computer science and applied mathematics at Weizmann, are being published Wednesday by the journal Nature. Cathryn R. Nagler, a professor of pathology at the University of Chicago who was not involved with the research but did write an accompanying commentary in Nature, called the results “very compelling.” She noted that many conditions, including obesity and diabetes, had been linked to changes in the microbiome. “What the study suggests,” she said, “is we should step back and reassess our extensive use of artificial sweeteners.”