FDA Has Sweet News for Consumers of Sugar Substitutes

ATLANTA (July 19, 2006) – Sugar substitutes receive a strong endorsement this month from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The FDA has issued a fact sheet on sugar substitutes, and published it in the July/August issue of FDA Consumer magazine, carrying the headline, “No Calories… Sweet!”

This is sweet news for the 180 million American adults currently consuming low-calorie and sugar-free foods and beverages (according to a national survey by the Calorie Control Council). The primary reasons for using these products is “to stay in overall better health” (73% said this was their most important reason) and “to eat or drink healthier foods and beverages” (68%).

The safety of sugar substitutes has been debated ever since Teddy Roosevelt said, almost 100 years ago, “Anybody who says saccharin is injurious to health is an idiot!” And if blogs and webcasts were around in 1911, surely there would have been an Internet frenzy surrounding President Roosevelt’s remarks. Today, the Internet is rife with rumors and health-related claims about low-calorie sweeteners and the sugar-free products sweetened with them.

“The FDA Consumer article, along with other recent regulatory developments mentioned in the article, will hopefully put to rest some of the widely-circulated rumors about aspartame and sucralose in particular,” said Lyn Nabors, president of the Calorie Control Council.

In discussing safety aspects of the five FDA-approved sugar substitutes (aspartame, acesulfame K, neotame, saccharin and sucralose), the FDA fact sheet notes: “For each of the approved sweeteners, the typical amount used by U.S. consumers is well within designated ‘acceptable daily intake levels (ADI),’ or levels that can be consumed safely every day over a lifetime.”

With regard to benefits, the fact sheet cites the American Dietetic Association, stating, “Artificial sweeteners can help consumers cut down on calories and control weight, help to manage chronic conditions such as diabetes, and potentially prevent cavities.”

Health professionals agree that cutting calories is key to weight loss. “Controlling calories with sugar-free and light foods and beverages, and adding some daily physical activity, are effective ways that consumers can make small changes to help them lose weight without feeling deprived,” said Nabors.

For example, replacing full-calorie cranberry juice with light cranberry juice can save 140 calories a day. If that kind of calorie savings is maintained every day, it could result in a 15-pound weight loss at the end of the year. Choosing sugar-free chocolate will save 50 calories a day and translates to 5 pounds over the course of a year.

For more information about the benefits and safety of low-calorie sweeteners, visit http://www.caloriecontrol.org.

faq2Do you have questions about low-calorie sweeteners? Want to learn more about maintaining a healthy lifestyle? You asked and we listened. Our resident Registered Dietitians answered the most popular questions about low-calorie sweeteners.