Artificial Sweeteners linked to weight gain

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(CNN) - It's something you may already be drinking every morning in your coffee or your diet soda . And guess  what? It might be making us fat. So just how *bad is that artificial sweetener?

It adds zero calories to your drink, but it may add pounds to your body.

A new report finds no-calorie artificial sweeteners actually cause you to gain weight instead of helping you slim down.

According to a  study in the journal "experimental biology," there's a link between no-calorie sugar substitutes and metabolic changes at the genetic level that could lead to diabetes and obesity.

Researchers found that exposure to artificial sweeteners for three weeks-- altered the expression of certain genes responsible for breaking down fat.

Researchers witnessed an increase in lipids in the bloodstream and a decrease in the molecule involved in clearing fat from the bloodstream.

Scientists say the most surprising finding was that metabolic changes didn't occur when cells were exposed to natural sugars like glucose and fructose.

Instead of altering certain genes, researchers say natural sugars contribute to cardiovascular disease through insulin resistance and by damaging the cells in blood vessels.

The new research adds to the debate over artificial sweeteners and their impact on health. 

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