Study suggests fake sweetener link to infant size, obesity

This file photo taken on May 25, 2015 shows a nurse taking the blood pressure of an overweight youth during his acupuncture and exercise treatment at the Aimin (Love the People) Fat Reduction Hospital in the northern port city of Tianjin. (AFP)
Updated 10 May 2016

Study suggests fake sweetener link to infant size, obesity

MIAMI: Pregnant women who drink artificially sweetened beverages may be more likely to have overweight infants than women who do not, a study suggested on Monday.
Researchers found that daily consumption of artificially sweetened beverages was linked to a two-fold higher risk of having an infant who was overweight at age one, compared to women who drank no artificially sweetened beverages at all.
“To our knowledge, we provide the first human evidence that maternal consumption of artificial sweeteners during pregnancy may influence infant BMI,” said the study led by Meghan Azad of the University of Manitoba.
The report, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Pediatrics, was based on self-reported survey data.
Therefore, it stops short of proving any cause and effect, but should encourage more research into the matter, scientists said.
More than 3,000 mothers logged their dietary habits, which were later analyzed by researchers.
Their infants’ body-mass index was measured at one year of age.
Nearly 30 percent of women reported drinking artificially sweetened beverages while pregnant, but the study did not identify which kinds of sweeteners women were consuming.
Researchers said they controlled for potential confounding factors that could play a role in the baby’s weight, such as the infant’s sex, whether or not the mother was overweight, and whether or not the infant was breastfed — and for how long.
The report also found no link between the child’s BMI and the pregnant mother’s self-reported consumption of sugary drinks.
Previous studies on the matter have been carried out with lab animals.
Some research has found that artificial sweeteners may trigger the appetite and lead to weight gain, or may interfere with important gut bacteria and raise the risk of heart problems.
However, data from observational studies is often conflicting, said an accompanying editorial in JAMA Pediatrics by researchers Mark Pereira, of the University of Minnesota and Matthew W. Gillman of Harvard Medical School.

Happiness: a feeling much easier achieved en masse

Updated 11 February 2019

Happiness: a feeling much easier achieved en masse

  • 'Happiness is better achieved as a collective'
  • The pursuit of happiness is better with others

DUBAI: Happiness is not something that can be created by an individual simply because they are told, but a feeling that results from interaction, an academic told the World Government Summit on Monday.

Referring to the US bill of rights that tells every American that they have the right to the pursuit of happiness, Professor of applied mathematics at Cornell University, Steven Strogatz said this was not necessarily a choice, individuals could make.

In a speech about the science of synchronized randomness, he concluded that complex systems in society were created by a number of different parts reacting in different ways.

He said in America there was a perception that happiness was something “each person should pursue on their own.”

“But happiness is very much a social phenomenon that people’s wellbeing and happiness that relies on their interactions with their fellow citizens,” Strogatz said.

“We can help each other be healthier and happier collectively – it’s not just up to us individually.”