Artificial sweeteners pose the same health risks as sugar according to a study published by the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. Researchers gathered data from 104,760 French adults who participated in the NutriNet-Sante, an ongoing online cohort that studies the association between nutrition and health, as well as dietary behavior. Participants were divided into three groups according to how much sugar they consume on a regular basis. They were asked to fill out 24 hour records of dietary intake and health status in six-month intervals. Researchers determined that people who regularly consumed artificially sweetened drinks are also at an equal high risk of cardiovascular diseases with people who regularly consumed sugary drinks.

“Our study suggests artificially sweetened beverages may not be a healthy substitute for sugar drinks, and these data provide additional arguments to fuel the current debate on taxes, labeling and regulation of sugary drinks and artificially sweetened beverages” said lead author Eloi Chazelas. If consumed in moderation, artificial sweeteners can be used to reduce calories for people planning to lose weight. Dr. Andrew Freeman, co-chair of the American College of Cardiology said that people mistakenly believe that artificially sweetened beverages are better than sugary drinks but recent evidence shows possible harms specifically in women. Freeman added that it’s best to curb food additives not only in drinks but processed foods in general.