Contrary to Recent Study, Low-Calorie Sweeteners Useful for Diabetes and Weight Management

On April 22, 2018, unpublished research was presented at the American Physiological Society meeting during Experimental Biology 2018 suggesting low-calorie sweeteners may contribute to diabetes and obesity. However, the research suffered from a few drawbacks, as noted by the Calorie Control Council:

  • This unpublished data was performed in rats
    There are limitations to studies performed in animals.  While studies in animals and in the lab can be helpful in planning future research, the gold standard for research is the randomized control trial (RCT).  A recent RCT by Mattes et al, showed that consuming aspartame in concentrations that are realistic for healthy adults, did not have adverse effects on blood sugar.
  • Results do not mention quantities
    It is unclear what levels of low-calorie sweeteners were used.
  • Research is preliminary, not peer reviewed or published
    The Calorie Control Council cautions against accepting research conclusions based on unpublished data. Critical methodological and statistical information was not available as the research has not been peer reviewed or published.

There continues to remain no peer-reviewed or published research that proves a causal relationship between low-calorie sweeteners and an increased risk of diabetes or obesity.

What the Experts Say

Global health agencies around the world, including The American Heart Association, American Diabetes Association and British Dietetic Association note that the use of low- and no-calorie sweeteners can be helpful for people with diabetes as they do not raise blood glucose or insulin levels, and when used to replace sugar, can help lower carbohydrate intake.

Millions of Americans are affected by diabetes and obesity, and more develop these conditions every year. For these individuals, nutrition plays a major role in managing disease. Low- and no-calorie sweeteners are excellent tools to reduce sugar intake, manage blood glucose levels, and reduce overall calorie intake. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics says that people can safely enjoy a range of non-nutritive sweeteners when they are part of an eating plan that is guided by current federal dietary guidelines.

The following agencies have utilized the most rigorous and extensive testing methods to evaluate low- and no-calorie sweeteners for use in diabetes management, and have concluded:

Foods and drinks that use artificial sweeteners are another option that may help curb your cravings for something sweet. – American Diabetes Association
The evidence reviewed suggests that when used judiciously, (nonnutritive sweeteners) NNS could facilitate reductions in added sugars intake, thereby resulting in decreased total energy and weight loss/weight control, and promoting beneficial effects on related metabolic parameters. – American Heart Association & American Diabetes Association Research
Artificial sweeteners are also safe for people with diabetes when consumed within the ADI [554]  and the EFSA Panel concluded that there is sufficient scientific information to support the claims that intense sweeteners lead to lower postprandial blood glucose concentrations if consumed instead of sugars [555]. For people who are accustomed to sugar sweetened products, (non nutritive sweeteners) NNS have the potential to reduce overall energy and carbohydrate intake and may be preferred to sugar when consumed in moderation and can be a useful strategy for those individuals seeking to control their calorie and manage their weight. – Diabetes UK


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.

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