Benefits for people with diabetes


Posted: 02 October 2016

Low calorie sweeteners do not affect insulin secretion nor blood glucose control and lead to a lower rise in blood sugar levels after meals if consumed instead of sugar. This benefit of low calorie sweeteners on post-prandial glucose has also been recognised as a health claim by EFSA: Consumption of foods containing low calorie sweeteners instead of sugar induces a lower blood glucose rise after their consumption compared to sugar-containing foods.

Low calorie sweeteners offer more “sweet” food choices to people with diabetes Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs when a person’s body either can no longer produce insulin, or can no longer make enough insulin, or even cannot use insulin properly. Based on the latest figures released by the International Diabetes Federation, it is estimated that in Europe, in 2015, 59.8 million people between 20-79 years of age suffered from diabetes, a number that is expected to increase to 71.1 million adults by 2040.

Low calorie sweeteners offer people with diabetes broader food choices by providing the pleasure of sweet taste without raising blood glucose. As low calorie sweeteners have no impact on insulin and blood sugar levels and do not provide calories, they can also have a role to play in weight loss and weight control for people with type 2 diabetes.

Low calorie sweeteners may aid in glucose control

In its latest annual guidelines ‘Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes’ published in early 2017, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) supports that "for people who are accustomed to sugar-sweetened products, non-nutritive sweeteners have the potential to reduce overall calorie and carbohydrate intake".

Earlier, in 2012, the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American Diabetes Association (ADA) issued a joint scientific statement on low calorie sweeteners and their potential usefulness and concluded that they may help people with diabetes to better control their glucose levels and maintain a healthy body weight, when used in place of sugar. The statement highlights that:

  • Substituting low calorie sweeteners for sugar added to foods and beverages may help people reach and maintain a healthy body weight – as long as the substitution doesn’t lead to eating additional calories later as “compensation.”
  • For people with diabetes, low calorie sweeteners used alone or in foods and beverages remain an option and when used appropriately can aid in glucose control.

For more information on the role of low calorie sweeteners in diabetes management you can download the ISA factsheet here:
Sweet talk on diabetes. How can low calorie sweeteners help?

You may also find interesting to check the online materials developed as part of the ISA online campaign in support of World Diabetes Day 2016 and under the umbrella theme 'It’s easy to start with one simple step!', which provide further information on key lifestyle and dietary guidelines for people with diabetes, including on the role of low calorie sweeteners in this context. Please click here to access the animated video and infographic developed on this occasion, and available in multiple languages.

References

  1. Evert AB, Boucher JL, Cypress M, et al. Nutrition therapy recommendations for the management of adults with diabetes. Diabetes Care. 2014; 37(Suppl.1): S120–S143
  2. EFSA NDA (EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products Nutrition and Allergies). Scientific opinion on the substantiation of health claims related to intense sweeteners and contribution to the maintenance or achievement of a normal body weight (ID 1136, 1444, 4299), reduction of post-prandial glycaemic responses (ID 4298), maintenance of normal blood glucose concentrations (ID 1221, 4298), and maintenance of tooth mineralisation by decreasing tooth demineralisation (ID 1134, 1167, 1283) pursuant to Article 13(1) of Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006. EFSA 2011 Journal 9: 2229
  3. IDF, Diabetes Atlas 7th edition 2015, http://www.diabetesatlas.org/resources/2015-atlas.html