Artificial sweeteners have long been lauded as the ideal low-calorie alternatives for straight sugar.
But in the last few years, studies have shown that those Hail Mary-esque low-cal sugar substitutes can actually be neurotoxic and have been linked to low fertility rates, and that one in particular is definitely bad for you. And now, a new report says they may actually promote weight gain and disease.
“There’s an assumption that when there are zero calories, there is zero harm.”
The study, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, found that although many people consume artificial sweeteners for weight management, those who drank one or more artificially sweetened beverages a day had a higher risk for health issues like weight gain, obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.
“There’s an assumption that when there are zero calories, there is zero harm,” study author Meghan Azad, an assistant professor in the department of pediatrics and child health at the University of Manitoba in Canada, tells Time. “This research has made me appreciate that there’s more to it than calories alone.” (And for what it’s worth, Azad, a devoted coffee drinker, says she did make the switch from Splenda to just milk in her daily brew.)
If you’re consuming Sweet ‘N Low in moderation—or whatever less-than-moderation is—no need to panic or start drinking your coffee black. But consider this research one more reason to finally kick that diet soda habit.