Dr. Keri Peterson
Medical Advisor to the Calorie Control Council
The annual American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE) meeting featured a session by Alan Barclay, PhD and Claudia Shwide-Slavin MS, RDN regarding non-nutritive sweeteners.
What caught my attention is that there is such a misconception about the impact of low calorie sweeteners with regard to craving sweets. The speakers discussed many different study types including observational, lab, Randomized Control Trial (RCT) and brain imaging studies that addressed this issue. They concluded that there is no association of non-nutritive sweeteners (NNS) with increased appetite for sugar sweetened products.
With regards to weight gain, evidence suggested that they do not cause weight gain but, to the contrary, they facilitate weight loss. One randomized controlled trial that is particularly powerful looked at non-nutritive sweeteners (NNS) vs. water and the NNS group lost more weight and had lower appetite than the water group.
One phenomenon that was discussed was the guilty by association idea. The authors proposed that a common behavior is for people to feel that when they select a diet beverage in place of a sugar sweetened beverage, they can get away with eating higher calorie foods because they’ve already cut out calories. But the evidence shows that NNS are a tool for weight loss only if other calories eaten don’t make up for calories saved.
Lastly, the impact of NNS on the glycemic index was discussed. Two studies were mentioned that found no glucose response after ingestion of these sweeteners, one at one hour post prandial and one at 4 hours after ingestion.
Dr. Peterson is a medical contributor and columnist for Women’s Health and a frequent guest on NBC’s Today, ABC’s Good Morning America, Fox News and CNN. Based in New York City, Dr. Peterson has been in private practice since 1999 and holds appointments at Lenox Hill Hospital and Mount Sinai Medical Center. With a BA from Cornell University and a Medical Degree from Mount Sinai School of Medicine, she completed post-graduate training in Internal Medicine at New York’s Mount Sinai Medical Center and is board certified in Internal Medicine. Dr. Peterson is a member of the American College of Physicians and the American Medical Association, and serves as medical advisor for the Calorie Control Council.