Dr. Keri Peterson
Medical Advisor to the Calorie Control Council
On June 13, 2016, as part of the 76th annual Scientific Sessions of the American Diabetes Association (ADA) held in New Orleans, a symposium entitled “The Experts Weigh-In on Low-Calorie Sweeteners” was held. It included three presentations by experts in the science, safety and efficacy of low calorie sweeteners. As a primary care physician, I frequently provide dietary counseling to my patients who are diabetic, overweight or just want to live a healthier lifestyle. Substituting sugar sweetened beverages and snacks with low-calorie sweeteners is one of my arsenal of tips. The following is a brief synopsis of each presenter’s key points.
The effect of Low Calorie Sweeteners (LCS) on weight loss, appetite, gut function and glycemia has been controversial. The school of thought in each category has evolved over the past 30 years as more studies have been done. Through the years the science has improved and these advances have allowed us to measure results with better precision. For example researchers have identified additional sweet receptors, enhanced brain imaging and the role of the microbiome is better understood.
The role of LCS in weight management is controversial as well. Controversy began 30 years ago with a study that showed a small association between consuming diet beverages and increase in body weight. More recently some studies show confusing results- some with increased body weight, others with decreased body weight and both findings even in the same study depending on which subgroup you look.
LCS are typically used to replace calorie laden sugar and to offer a source of sweetness with no carbohydrate content to satisfy innate desire. The major food category sources of added sugars in the U.S. are snacks and sweets at 31 percent and beverages at 47 percent. Dietary Guidelines for 2015-2020 suggest that individuals reduce added sugars to <10% of total calories and that our Nutrition Facts label include information about added sugars such as total grams and percent of daily value. These recommendations were based on a link between excess body weight and risk of type II diabetes in adults who consume excess added sugars. The FDA has made changes to Nutrition Facts labels that will begin in July 2018.
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.