Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 26th 2013 Contents B17
Thursday, September 26, 2013 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Sugar in soda is a known culprit in promoting
diabetes and obesity. But a new study takes a look
at another potential player in the soda-obesity
New research published in the journal Gastroen-
terology suggests that carbonation in sugary drinks
can affect the brain s perception of sugar, making it
think sugar consumption is less than it actually is.
The Italian researchers also found that a certain
amount of carbonation seems to keep the brain from
being able to tell the difference between sweet from
sugar and sweet from artificial sweeteners.
The finding could potentially be good for people
looking to lose weight by consuming diet drinks
because "it facilitates the consumption of low-calorie
drinks because their taste is perceived as pleasant as
the sugary, calorie-laden drink," study researcher
Rosario Cuomo, an associate professor of gastroen-
terology in the department of clinical medicine and
surgery at Federico II University in Italy, said in a
However, it s important to note that the link between
artificial sweeteners and weight is still not clear: It s
unknown whether obese people drink diet drinks in
an effort to lose weight, or if obesity is spurred by
consumption of diet drinks.
Some research has suggested artificial sweeteners
can prime the brain to want more sweet, thereby
theoretically promoting weight gain through added
The new study is based on two functional neu-
roimaging experiments. In the first experiment, study
participants underwent brain scans while tasting four
altered types of Sprite.
The first kind was just carbonated and sweetened
with sucrose (sugar), the second was non-carbonated
and sweetened with sucrose, the third was carbonated
and sweetened with aspartame (artificial sweetener),
and the fourth was non-carbonated and sweetened
The second part of the study involved using brain
imaging to see where neural effects in the insular
cortex brain region were strongest when tasting
carbon dioxide and sour taste (sour-sensing cells are
responsible for detecting carbon dioxide) versus water.
In addition to this element of the experiment, study
participants also reported their perceptions of sweet-
ness from the different kinds of Sprite used in the
first experiment, as well as carbon dioxide added to
a ten per cent glucose solution.
Researchers found that across the board, the pres-
ence of carbonation seemed to decrease the perception
of sweet in the brains of the study participants.
Catia Sternini, of the David Geffen School of Med-
icine at the University of California, Los Angeles,
who wrote a commentary in the same journal on the
new study, noted that "making the perception of
noncaloric sweetener similar to the caloric sweetener,
carbonation might then favour the consumption of
low-calorie, diet beverages.
However, the reduced sweetness perception due
to carbonation might be a double-edged sword in
that it could also stimulate sucrose and food con-
sumption because the brain perceives less sugar
intake, and because energy balance is impaired."
Carbonation s effect on the gastrointestinal tract
could also potentially play a role in the soda-obesity
link, Sternini wrote: "Consumption of carbonated
beverages induces gastric distension, eliciting a sense
of fullness and thus affecting food intake," he said.
"In addition, the sense of taste in the mouth,
together with the sight and the smell of food and
drink, initiates physiologic reflexes beyond the oral
cavity, such as the secretion of digestive enzymes,
hormones, and other signaling molecules from the
gastrointestinal tract and its associated glands, which
prepare the gut to digest and absorb nutrients or to
reject and neutralise potentially dangerous non-nutri-
tive chemicals." (huffingtonpost.com)
Studies show that
carbonation in sugary
drinks can affect the brain's
perception of sugar, making
it think sugar consumption
is less than it actually is.
Carbonation could be
contributing to obesity
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