May 27, 2020 — On May 26, 2020, Cochrane Systematic Review – Intervention published a review of the scientific evidence titled “Non-nutritive sweeteners for diabetes mellitus,” The review set out to determine the effect of long-term NNS consumption on average blood sugar levels as well as other patient-centered outcomes, including body weight, side effects, diabetes complications (such as heart attack, eye or kidney disease), and health-related quality of life. The review showed inconclusive evidence of benefit or harm to people with diabetes who consume non-nutritive sweeteners (NNS) and the authors cautioned that the findings came with very low certainty.
Out of 1,699 scientific records in the initial search, researchers included nine randomized controlled trials for their analyses. Study results were mixed, and even found the reverse was true – that changes in NNS consumption were inversely correlated with concurrent weight gain, supporting previous findings that replacing sugar with NNS is helpful in weight management. It should be noted that this study did not look at how the incorporation of NNS in place of sugar-sweetened beverages may provide benefit.
The research suffered from other drawbacks, including:
What the Experts Say
Global health organizations around the world, including The American Heart Association, American Diabetes Association and British Dietetic Association note that the use of NNS — also known as low and no calorie sweeteners (LNCS) — 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.
“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 tips,” said Keri Peterson, MD and medical advisor of the Calorie Control Council.
According to Robert Rankin, president of the Calorie Control Council, “Millions of Americans are affected by diabetes and obesity,. For these individuals, nutrition plays a major role in managing disease. Low and now calorie sweeteners are not a magic bullet but they are excellent tools to help reduce sugar intake, manage blood glucose levels, and reduce overall calorie intake.”
The following organizations have utilized the most rigorous and extensive testing methods to evaluate LNCS for use in diabetes management, and have concluded:
For a half a century, The Calorie Control Council has been reviewing science on low calorie sweeteners and diet products. Established in 1966, the Council is an international association representing the low- and reduced-calorie food and beverage industry. Council staff includes experts certified in public health, food and nutrition. More at caloriecontrol.org.