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Warning over sorbitol weight loss

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Severe weight loss can occur from ingesting excessive amounts of sorbitol, a sweetener found in chewing gum, a new report shows.
The report, led by the Department of Gastroenterology at Berlin's Charite Universitatsmedizin studied two patients, a 21-year-old woman and a 46-year-old man, who had experienced chronic diarrhoea.

The patients had also lost 33kg between them in the last year.

Doctors were baffled by the unexplained weight loss and said of the female patient: “When we questioned the patient further, we found that she chewed large amounts of sugar-free gum, accounting for a total daily dose of 18-20g sorbitol.”

After a full evaluation of eating habits, the report found that sorbitol consumption caused not only chronic diarrhoea and functional bowel problems but also considerable weight loss.

The authors advised all doctors investigating unexplained weight loss to include a detailed dietary history with regard to foods containing sorbitol.

BMJ (2008) 336:96-97
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