Year-Long Study Finds Low-Calorie Beverages Beneficial for Weight Loss and Maintenance Among Overweight Adults

Beverages made with low-calorie sweeteners, including aspartame and sucralose, may be beneficial tools to support weight loss and maintenance among overweight and obese adults, according to a new study published in Obesity.

About the Study

In the study, more than 220 overweight and obese adults were randomized into one of two groups and participated in the same 12-week weight loss program. The only difference between the two groups was the type of beverage instructed for consumption: one group was told to consume beverages made with low-calorie sweeteners and the other was told to consume water. Participants were followed for another 40-week weight maintenance phase in which they participated in the same monthly meetings with dietitians and clinical psychologists.

Factors such as weight, waist circumference and perceived hunger were measured among all participants before the weight loss phase and following the weight maintenance phase.

Study Results

Researchers found that:

  • Those in the low-calorie beverage group lost significantly more weight than those in the water group. The study found that 19% more participants in the low-calorie beverage group lost more than 5 percent of their weight over the year as compared to the water group.
  • While waist circumference decreased among both groups over time, the loss was significantly higher in the low-calorie beverage group.
  • Perceived hunger at the end of the study was higher among those in the water group.
  • Physical activity level was similar among both groups over time.

The researchers of this study concluded, “This 1-year randomized clinical trial provides evidence that NNS [non-nutritive sweetened] beverages may be an effective tool to aid in weight loss and maintenance, among regular users of NNS beverages, when used as part of a behavioral weight loss treatment program. In this equivalence trial design, when compared to the most commonly recommended beverage for good health, water, NNS beverages were shown to be non-equivalent and were superior for both weight loss and weight maintenance.”

“This study highlights the potential use of beverages sweetened with low- and no-calorie sweeteners as tools to support weight loss,” said Robert Rankin, President of the Calorie Control Council. “Low-calorie sweeteners allow for people to enjoy a variety of foods and beverages without worrying about excess calories.” Health organizations, including the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND), the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and the American Heart Association (AHA) support the use of low-calorie sweeteners to assist with calorie and weight management.

Peters JC, Beck J, Cardel M, Wyatt HR, Foster GD, Pan Z, et al. The effects of water and non-nutritive sweetened beverages on weight loss and weight maintenance: a randomized clinical trial. Obesity, 2015; doi: 10.1002/oby.21327.

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.