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Benefits of Low-Calorie Sweeteners

July 14, 2009

The Role of Low-Calorie Sweeteners in Weight Control

Low-calorie sweeteners provide consumers with many benefits, both psychological and physiological. Health professionals and consumers believe low-calorie sweeteners are effective for the following purposes: weight maintenance, weight reduction, management of diabetes, reduction of dental caries, and reduction in the risks associated with obesity.

For approximately 187 million adult Americans, low-calorie sweeteners offer a means to enjoy good-tasting foods and beverages without the calories. Research shows that consumers of low-calorie, sugar-free foods and beverages have incorporated these products into an overall healthy lifestyle. Staying in better overall health is rated as the number one reason for using low-calorie products. For many low-calorie product consumers, staying in better overall health includes achieving and maintaining a proper weight.

People use low-calorie foods and beverages for many reasons other than dieting. 68 percent of low-calorie product consumers are not on a diet. For these people, “calorie consciousness” does not mean a commitment to weight control or weight reduction. Instead, these “non-dieters” use low-calorie products as part of a healthy lifestyle.

Allegations have been made that the benefits of low-calorie sweeteners are not well documented. In fact, scientific evidence supports the benefits of low-calorie sweeteners, particularly regarding weight control. The role of low-calorie sweeteners in weight control can be summarized as follows:

  • For many, low-calorie sweeteners offer a means to control caloric intake, allowing the substitution of low-calorie foods and beverages for their higher calorie counterparts. The increased availability of good-tasting, low-calorie products has made “calorie juggling” a popular method for maintaining weight.
  • Health professionals agree that the key to losing weight is to burn more calories than are consumed, either by increasing physical activity or consuming fewer calories — or preferably, both. As part of a sensible weight-control program, low-calorie sweeteners can help consumers reduce caloric intake and therefore help them lose weight.
  • Low-calorie sweeteners provide weight-conscious individuals with a greater variety of food and beverage choices in their diets. Also, low-calorie foods and beverages are easily incorporated into a lifelong, sensible weight-control program.
  • “Successful” weight reduction — losing weight and keeping it off — involves many factors, such as eating habits (including a balanced diet, eaten in moderation), exercise and long-term commitment. Allegations that one component of a person’s diet, in this case low-calorie sweeteners, is responsible for weight-loss failure cannot be supported, especially when other dietary and lifestyle factors are not controlled. In fact, the majority of those who use low-calorie sweeteners to lose or maintain weight do not rely solely on these products.
  • Though low-calorie foods and beverages can play a key role in successful weight loss, they cannot be held responsible for a weight-loss failure. The ultimate success of any weight-loss program depends on the individual — not any particular product.
  • Human and animal evidence exists which supports the effectiveness of low-calorie sweeteners in controlling caloric intake.
  • Opinion research has revealed that the vast majority of U.S. health professionals judge a low-calorie sweetener to be of benefit for weight control.
  • Claims by some that low-calorie sweeteners cause people to gain weight are essentially speculation and are not well founded scientifically. In fact, scientific evidence points to the opposite conclusion. Speculation that low-calorie sweeteners make people eat more has been generally contradicted by laboratory and clinical studies. Additionally, extensive clinical research shows that low-calorie sweetener use does not result in increased caloric intake or lead to weight gain.
  • In any discussion of low-calorie sweeteners and their role in weight control, it is important to note that these sweeteners are not drugs designed for the purpose of weight reduction. There are no miraculous weight loss claims made in the marketing of these products, as there are with some of the popular “fad” diet plans.
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.