Finally, someone has caught on to what us hypoglycemics have known for years... Artificial sweeteners screw up the body's ability to respond to sweetness.
Several news outlets (including Time linked above) are reporting that artificial sweeteners may actually be one of the culprits in American weight gain. Summarized, the research points to a de-conditioning effect being caused by the artificial sweetness. This means that the body stops revving up the metabolism when sugar is ingested. In turn, weight gain, increased bad cholesterol and abnormal levels in fats and triglycerides seem to be occurring.
I've known this myself for quite a while. There isn't a single artificial sweetener that I can ingest without ending up with a headache. So, early in my teenage years I learned to avoid artificial sweeteners like the plague.
There was no way for me to have known what was causing my headaches when drinking saccharin and nutrasweet sweetened products. No one had ever studied it. But now the research is fairly conclusive... initially people who intake artificial sweeteners experience an insulin spike as if the body was going to be processing sugar. That is what causes my headache - the insulin spike causes my blood sugar drop since no sugar is coming in to offset it.
As people continually ingest artificial sweeteners, their bodies say "fool me once..." Thus begins the process of desensitizing the body to sugar such that problems develop as the metabolism is no longer geared to handle it.
The assumption of the researchers who have analyzed the study results is that consuming sweet with no corresponding incoming calories is what causes what they call "metabolic syndrome". (Metabolic syndrome meaning that the body's metabolism is off-the-tracks and not running at the rate it should.)