Artificial sweetener sucralose, which is sold as Splenda, Aqualoz, and Canderel, was found to cause blood sugar and insulin levels to jump higher than when consumers only drank water, a new study found.

Published in the journal Diabetes Care, the new study on the popular artificial sweetener sucralose, Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis researcher, found that it can actually modify the way your body handles sugar. Researchers found that Splenda and its counterparts effects the body's responses to sugar (glucose), which could thereby affect diabetes risk, even though the product has zero calories.

"Our results indicate that this artificial sweetener is not inert -- it does have an effect," study researcher M. Yanina Pepino, Ph.D., research assistant professor of medicine at the university, said in a statement. "And we need to do more studies to determine whether this observation means long-term use could be harmful."

The study tested a small group of participants, 17 in total, who were severely obese with a body mass index over 42 (30 is considered the starting point for obesity) and who didn't regularly consume artificially sweetened products. 

Participants each had to drink water followed by glucose, and then sucralose followed by glucose. When people drank the sucralose first, their blood sugar peak was higher.

"Insulin levels also rose about 20 per cent higher. So the artificial sweetener was related to an enhanced blood insulin and glucose response," said Pepino.

Every participant was tested twice, the researcher noted. Those who drank water followed by glucose in one visit consumed the sucralose drink followed by glucose in the next. In this way, each subject served as his or her own control group.

"When study participants drank sucralose, their blood sugar peaked at a higher level than when they drank only water before consuming glucose," Pepino explained. "Insulin levels also rose about 20 percent higher. So the artificial sweetener was related to an enhanced blood insulin and glucose response."

Splenda responded to the study by releasing this statement. "Numerous clinical studies in people with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes and non-diabetic people have shown that Splenda Brand Sweetener (sucralose) does not affect blood glucose levels, insulin, or HbA1c."

"FDA and other important safety and regulatory agencies from around the world have concluded that sucralose does not adversely affect glucose control, including in people with diabetes. 'Experts from around the world have found that Splenda Brand Sweetener is suitable for everyone, including those with diabetes."