A joint team headed by Eran Segal and Eran Elinav of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot led a study that found links between the use of sugar substitutes such as saccharine and obesity. It is also the first study to suggest that sweeteners cause metabolic disorders when they are exposed to the gut microbiome—the diverse community of bacteria in the human intestines. The researchers studied the effects of sweetener consumption on mice and found that the mice became glucose intolerant. To check whether the sweeteners were affecting the murine microbiome, the researchers used antibiotics to kill the gut bacteria, which reversed the metabolic changes, suggesting that artificial sweeteners were making microbiome unhealthy. The researchers then studied the effect of sweeteners on healthy human volunteers. While some became glucose intolerant and showed susceptibility to metabolic diseases, others did not. This indicates that generic use of sweeteners should be avoided. However, more research is required to draw any firm conclusions.
Read more in Nature.