Dangerously Sweet?


Coke and Coke Light, Hong Kong
By Dezzawong (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Colin Lowther and Liz Waid look at artificial sweeteners. Are they safe for people? Do they help people lose weight?

Transcript


Voice 1 

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Colin Lowther.

Voice 2 

And I’m Liz Waid. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1 

A woman sits outside with her friends. It is a hot, sunny afternoon. She wants something to drink - something light and sweet. She wants a soda! But the woman knows that there is a lot of sugar in soda. She also knows that too much sugar is bad for her health. So she chooses a diet, or light, soda. Her friends choose the same kind of diet drink. They think that they are making a healthy choice. But are they?

Voice 2 

Light, or diet, soda does not have sugar in it. Instead, it contains artificial sweeteners. In an earlier Spotlight program, we talked about natural sweeteners. These include foods like sugar, honey, stevia and maple syrup. Natural sweeteners come from plants. But artificial sweeteners are chemicals. Although both are sweet, there are many important differences. Today’s Spotlight is on artificial sweeteners.

Voice 1 

People in every country like to eat sweet foods. The most popular sweetener is sugar. But too much sugar can cause health problems. Dr. Donald Hensrud teaches medicine and nutrition at the Mayo clinic research hospital. He tells ABC News why sugar can be a problem:

Voice 3 

“From a health stand point, sugar is a 'triple danger' - it provides extra calories. It has no nutrients that are good for your body. And it may make a person not eat other foods and nutrients in the diet that are more healthy.”

Voice 2 

Sugar provides quick energy. But it is easy to eat too much sugar. Then it turns into fat in the body. So people who eat too much sugar often have extra fat. This can cause many health problems. Too much sugar can also lead to diseases such as diabetes or heart problems.

Voice 1 

Many people avoid sugar because they do not want these health problems. But they still want to enjoy sweet food. To solve this problem, food and drug companies use artificial sweeteners. There are artificial sweeteners in chewing gum, diet or light soda drinks, sweets and many other kinds of food. There are even artificial sweeteners in some medicines. These things taste sweet. But they do not contain any sugar.

Voice 2 

Scientists discovered the first artificial sweetener in 1879. This sweetener was saccharine. During World War Two, it became difficult to find sugar. People began to use saccharine to sweeten their food and drink.  By the 1960s, people began to use artificial sweeteners instead of sugar for health reasons.  By the 1980s artificial sweeteners were commonly used in foods and drinks.

Voice 1 

Scientists also made other kinds of sweetener. In the United States, the most popular sweetener is aspartame. Other commonly used artificial sweeteners include neotame, sucralose and acesulfame potassium. These names of artificial sweeteners sound like the names of chemicals. That is because they are chemicals. They do not grow in nature. They are made in laboratories. This is the main difference between natural and artificial sweeteners.

Voice 2 

Artificial sweeteners also taste different than natural sweeteners. They are very sweet - even sweeter than sugar. But some people think they have a strange taste - like metal or chemicals.

Voice 1 

The other main difference between natural and artificial sweeteners is how they affect a person’s body. Natural sweeteners, like honey or sugarcane, are food. They give energy. If a person eats too much of any food, the energy turns into fat on his body. But artificial sweeteners do not give energy like sugar. They do not turn into fat like sugar.

Voice 2 

So many people think artificial sweeteners are better for their body. But are they healthy? Some people do not think these products are safe to use.  They believe the chemicals in artificial sweeteners may cause serious health problems. Some people think artificial sweeteners can lead to many problems such as pains in the stomach and head, depression, memory loss, and problems with nerves. But the most serious reports show a link between artificial sweeteners and cancer.

Voice 1 

In 2005, a scientist released an important study about the artificial sweetener aspartame. Doctor Morando Soffritti was the scientist. He did a study on rats. Scientists often use this small animal with a long tail for laboratory experiments. Dr. Soffritti studied a group of 4,000 rats for seven years.  He fed the rats the aspartame through their lives.  He wanted to see what happened to the health of the rats over time.

Voice 2 

Some of the rats in Dr. Soffritti’s study became very sick. They developed two dangerous kinds of cancer - leukemia and lymphoma.  This worried Dr. Soffritti.  He told the New York Times newspaper,

Voice 4 

“If something causes cancer in animals, it should not be added to food. Especially if so many people use it.”

Voice 1 

The main reason people use artificial sweeteners is to avoid gaining too much fat. The women who chose a light soda believed that it would help to keep their bodies healthy. But several studies say that artificial sweeteners are not doing this. In one study, published in 2008, artificial sweeteners caused even more problems than sugar! The scientists gave artificial sweeteners to some rats. They gave sugar to other rats. The rats who ate sugar gained some fat. But the rats who ate sweeteners gained even more fat!

Voice 2 

Scientists think this is because the artificial sweeteners did not make the rats feel full. When the rats ate something sweet, their body expected the energy from sugar. Artificial sweeteners do not give any energy. So, the rats ate more of other foods. In this way, the studies show that artificial sweeteners may not even help people to be more healthy.

Voice 1 

As a result of these studies, some doctors and scientists think artificial sweeteners are dangerous. But most governments have approved using artificial sweeteners in food and drugs. They say that artificial sweeteners are safe in small amounts.

Voice 2 

In most places, people can get all kinds of sweeteners. Some people choose to use only natural sweeteners. Other people like artificial sweeteners. What do you think about artificial sweeteners? Which sweetener do you like most? Share your comments on the script page for this program on our website, at http://www.radioenglish.net.

Voice 1 

The writer of this program was Johanna Poole. The producer was Michio Ozaki. The voices you heard were from the United States and the United Kingdom. All quotes were adapted for this program and voiced by Spotlight. You can listen to this program again, and read it, on the internet at www.radioenglish.net. This program is called, ‘Dangerously Sweet?’

Voice 2 

We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.

Question:

Do you use any artificial sweeteners? Do you like diet, or light, drinks? Do you think they are safe and healthy for you?

Comments


Avatar Spotlight
tank!
said on March 19, 2012

There are some kinds of natural and artificial sweeteners.  In reality, I never think about what sweetener is in my products… But it is a big problem for people that have such disease like diabetes.  My acquaintance has it. Every day she should follow for her food. And now in shops there are separate shelves with products excepting sugar at all.

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gardenia
said on March 19, 2012

If you like,sometimes,you can have natural sweeteners, but your daily diet woudn’t contain sugar:no sugar drinks,no sugar foods.
Natural sweeteners come from plants so, why don’t eat vegetables end fruits end other natural foods?
You have to descover the natural taste of all kinds of food!
About artificial,chemicals sweeteners, I think, they are rubbish.

Mayce's avatar
Mayce
said on March 19, 2012

I prefer brown sugar instead of the white one, I believe it’s healthy and causes less fat :))

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edwin espinoza
said on March 22, 2012

HI I PREFER THE SUGAR FOR BREAKFAST AND I THINK IS GOOD

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Narath
said on May 15, 2012

If I am able to stop all people who are using artificial sweeteners in food and drink is better but it is impossible. In fact I know but I still drink it because it makes me feel fresh and strong and I find that some people maybe become habit of drinking or eating food that contain artificial sweeteners. Recently, I am concerning about young generation and especially children at my country because they like eating bag snacks which import from the other countries rather than rice , slow food so it must impact to their health .

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georgino
said on January 29, 2013

I think that the doctors and scientists have the reason. so It is better doesn’t put much sugar in our food.
I do exercise everyday to have a healthy body and avoid fat I eat   salad.
the body needs nutrients and differents vitamins for that with balanced food we will be fine.

Great topic
Thank you friends

Edu Berenguer's avatar
Edu Berenguer
said on March 10, 2013

Hi everydoby! I listened to this program and I really be impressed by it. One of the most important thing that I heard on this program is about this phrase “If something causes cancer in animals, it should not be added to food.  Especially if so many people use it.” and its linkage with the government. Is too much obvious that a substance that causes cancer should not be added on people food, but it is not importante to the government, industries and factories, because they are GAINING A LOT OF MONEY, AN UNBELIEVABLE AMOUNT OF MONEY from the people who use them (many times they have to use these substanteces because they do not have CHOISE, because these products are cheaper than others). IF YOU ARE BECOMING SICK, HAVING CANCER OR OTHER HEALTH PROBLEMS, WHO CARES? The most essential thing for these [government…] is to gain a lot of money, to have the supreme power. They do not care about our EDUCATION and HEALTH SITUATION. They prefer to IGNORE US for indeterminate time, maybe forever, I don’t know. But if this situation continues like it is currently, we should be a little concerned about it, because our precious lives are on the game.

Who is going to solve this problem? Every day the things price goes being higher and higher. The population work a lot but, despite this, they do not gain enough money to keep themselves on a life full of dignity, they do not have enough many to EAT a good food, HEALTH FOOD. It makes me remembered about the Ecological problem, too. It envolves many things like these that I wrote above. It’s complicated…

If we have any kind of science, it should be used to prevent diseases, to promote population’s health, to give us a better life, too. The government should invest more in science and other things. Therefore, we could have a better life, a life that all of us deserve, because we were born to be happy. Bye!!!

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nguyenthuy
said on December 17, 2014

i dont like artificial sweeteners . I feel its not good . I always choose natural drink , food and ignore fast food . I can be fat but its heathy fat . But im not fat now hihi . I consider about make a heathy food , food products which come from natural with grow and all of part of nature , water , wind , organic fertilizers ... I always support my friends and all of people use natural food without pesticides . In Vietnam , we can raise the honey to take sweeteners. Its very good and heathy but it is a little expensive when you use it instead of using artificial sweeteners . You want to be heathy , you must pay more . Its realistic at now.

JoaoVBR's avatar
JoaoVBR
said on August 11, 2015

I always liked to eat natural sugar than an artificial one, although I already have ate an artificial sweetener and perceived that the taste isn’t bad. However, I keep the thought of the things which are natural are always better than the ones which are made in laboratories.

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Dela
said on August 31, 2015

Surely, using the natural sweeteners as honey or stevia is beneficial for our health at all events because using artificial sweeteners seems to be still controversial enough.
For example, Aspartame was found to be dangerous causing many serious health problems but scientists have been invented so called sweeteners of new generation recently.
In my country, the excellent sweetener Diachrom is being sold now, that product is corresponding to requirements of healthy diet, Diachrom contains sucraloza and chromium which components influence successfuly the right level of glucose in blood and it even can help lower the body weight too.
Moreover, the extreme amount of harmful, dangerous sugar contain drinks as Coca Cola just as the similar ones, that is why mainly children should limit drinking these inconvenient, poisonous but so attractive drinks though!
Thanks for great popular topic!

Avatar Spotlight
Dela
said on August 31, 2015

I would like to mention additionally Diachrom hasn’t any unpleasant taste, it can be used for cooking, baking and sweetening drinks as tea, coffee, cocoa and so on. Unfortunately, the cost of this product has been relatively high so far. Personally, I’m used to sweetening my coffee or tea with this new sweetener although I sometimes sweeten with honey or stevia too.

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Dela
said on August 31, 2015

I have to apologize for grammatical mistake in my comment, of course, the correct expression is: scientists have invented sweeteners (without been). I’m sorry!

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Giant
said on May 13, 2016

In the middle east , people use to drink more sweet coffee and tea , only people who suffer diabetes use artificial sweeteners. I think the problem is our nutrition memory since our childhood, so the best solution is trying to train our memory for new software food without any sugar , specially children, and recommend for sugar products factories to reduce sugar to min gradually!

Kaleb Kolaibi's avatar
Kaleb Kolaibi
said on February 08, 2017

I think that ALL artificial sweeteners are not good for human health and I think that ALL the governments and the media does not awareness perhaps because of bribery.
I drink Coca Cola or soft Orange sometimes.
God bless you

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ManMN3003
said on February 11, 2017

In the last few years, I was scared to drink milk because I thought I was going to be fat, and then I chose the milk with “no fat” instead. But that was seriously wrong. That milk even made me grow fatter than before because it contains artificial sweetener. Now I choose the milk with whole nutrient to drink and avoid all artificial sweeteners like soda, coke, Pepsi, etc to keep staying healthily.