The doctors have warned that an excess sorbitol intake, a widely used sweetener in "sugar-free" products such as chewing gum and sweets cab lead to a weight loss in people. Their advice came after cases of two patients with chronic diarrhoea, abdominal pain and severe weight loss where they carried out extensive investigations and analysed their eating habits.
The findings revealed that first patient (a 21 year old woman) chewed large amounts of sugar-free gum, with a total daily dose of 18-20g sorbitol (one stick of chewing gum contains about 1.25g sorbitol).
The second patient, a 46 year old man chewed 20 sticks of sugar-free gum and eating up to 200g of sweets each day that collectively contained around 30g sorbitol.
After following a sorbitol free diet, both the patients' diarrhoea subsided, normal bowel movements resumed and weight gain was achieved.
"Our cases demonstrate that sorbitol consumption can cause not only chronic diarrhoea and functional bowel complaints but also considerable unintended weight loss (about 20pct of usual body weight)," wrote the authors.
"As possible side effects are usually found only within the small print on foods containing sorbitol, consumers may be unaware of its laxative effects and fail to recognise a link with their gastrointestinal problems, the authors added.