Many studies have shown that In every country, there is a perfect correlation between sales figures for diet food and the percentage of overweight and morbidly obese citizens. This observation, without preconceived ideas, may lead to two very different conclusions.
Some will find it logical that the sale of diet products will increase as obesity increases. Others will conclude that diet food has no effect on the incidence of obesity. On one hand diet foods producers will see huge profit potentials in countries where obesity is prevalent while on the other hand the clinician’s will deduce that diet foods have failed to reduce the incidence of obesity.
These two conclusions are correct and any observer can congratulate himself on his logic. Yes, diet foods have huge profit potentials. And no, they do not prevent obesity.
Considering the conflict of interest between the two views it would be surprising if such instinctive conclusions could be validated by science.
The truth is indeed more complex
Having shown that obesity cannot be eradicated with diet foods or drugs, science has tried to understand the paradox of diet foods that makes people fatter. It already has several answers.
Synthetic sweeteners are not only ineffective, but also harmful because they promote glucose intolerance through a mechanism that is probably linked to changes in microbiota.
In children, diet sweet drinks are even more toxic than sugary drinks, because they influence their eating habits even more negatively over time. In adults, diet soft drinks promote insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. In pregnant women, they also increase the risk of premature birth for reasons that are not yet clear.
Ultimately, physiology sheds light on this paradox. A synthetic sweetener gives a sweet signal in the mouth that informs the body about the next arrival of sugar, mobilizing insulin and limiting the release of sugar reserves; and since the sugar intake does not take place, it results in real hypoglycemia that stimulates the appetite. What wasn’t the problem!