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Scientist find common sweetener in low-cal foods also increases fat mass

Erythritol, a common ingredient in low-calorie foods used as a sugar replacement sweetener, was identified by a new study as a biomarker for increasing fat mass. Researchers say that, despite previous assumptions and research, erythritol can be metabolised by, and even produced in, the human body.

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Scientists from the Cornell University, Braunschweig University of Technology, Germany, and the University of Luxembourg, recently published a study conducted as a discovery-based analysis to identify metabolomic markers associated with weight gain and increase in fat mass in young adults during the transition to college life. As more than 3 million high school graduates

As more than 3 million high school graduates enrol each year in postsecondary education as first-time college freshmen, this transition to a residential college environment is associated with weight gain.

Researchers found that students who gained weight and abdominal fat over the course of the year had fifteenfold higher blood erythritol at the start of the year compared with their counterparts who were stable or lost weight and fat mass over the academic year.

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Patricia Cassano, professor in the Division of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell, says about 75 percent of this population experiences weight gain during the transition.

“With the finding of a previously unrecognised metabolism of glucose to erythritol and given the erythritol-weight gain association, further research is needed to understand whether and how this pathway contributes to weight gain risk.”

Erythritol occurs naturally in a variety of foods, such as pears and watermelons, but in recent years has increasingly become a common ingredient in low-calorie foods as a sugar replacement sweetener.

John Beckett