New evidence further supports low calorie sweeteners’ role in glucose and weight control

Posted: 13 December 2017

Highlights from the ISA-supported symposium at the French Nutrition day 2017

The International Sweeteners Association (ISA) is particularly pleased to have participated with an ISA-supported symposium in the French Nutrition Day (JFN – Journées Francophones de Nutrition), an event taking place from 13th to 15th December in Nantes, France. Organised by the French Nutrition Society (SFN - Société Française de Nutrition) and the Francophone Society of Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism (SFNEP - Société Francophone Nutrition Clinique et Métabolisme), the French Nutrition Day brings together the leading nutrition-related organisations in France and nutrition experts from across the country.

Presenting the latest evidence including the findings from his recent research work at the ISA symposium on 13th December, Prof Fantino highlighted that, contrary to claims from observational studies that cannot examine causation, the consumption of low calorie sweetened beverages does not cause weight gain; on the contrary, high-quality human studies show that low calorie sweetened drinks can actually help in energy reduction when used instead of the sugary versions and that they do not by any means increase calorie intake nor affect appetite for consuming other sweet foods. Based on the outcomes of his study, a randomised controlled trial in 166 adults, the researchers found that, compared to water, the consumption of low calorie sweetened beverages does not disrupt food behaviour nor affect energy intake in both regular consumers of low calorie sweeteners and in individuals who are not consumers of low calorie sweetened products. Prof Fantino concluded: “What we know to date is that substituting regular-calorie, sugar-sweetened foods and beverages with their low calorie sweetened versions can help in a modest weight loss and may be a useful dietary tool to improve compliance with weight loss or weight maintenance plans.

The same controversy between observational and human intervention studies is quite frequent on topics around low calorie sweeteners and diabetes. As Prof Bonnet analysed in his talk about low calorie sweeteners and glucose metabolism, some observational data have shown an association between low calorie sweeteners’ consumption and diabetes, but this association is diminished or vanished when confounding factors like obesity are taken into consideration. This is happening because obviously people with diabetes, or at risk of having diabetes, choose to consume low calorie sweetened products more frequently compared to people without the disease, in their effort to manage their carbohydrate intake; there is no causal relationship between these two factors. On the contrary, a wealth of human intervention studies has shown that low calorie sweeteners do not affect blood glucose levels or insulin secretion post-prandially, and thus that they can be a useful dietary strategy for people with diabetes to reduce their overall sugar intake while maintaining the desired sweet taste. Presenting new evidence from his own study, Prof Bonnet highlighted that low calorie sweeteners seem to have a neutral effect on insulin sensitivity in non-diabetic adults, meaning that low calorie sweeteners do not affect insulin resistance nor insulin secretion. These findings are in line with previous studies and build on previous evidence consistently supporting that low calorie sweeteners can be beneficial in glucose control when used in place of sugar.

To read our press release issued on the occasion of the ISA symposium at the French Nutrition Day, please click here.

For more information on the programme of the French Nutrition Day, we invite you to please visit the dedicated page on the ISA website by clicking here.