The International Sweeteners Association (ISA) strongly refutes the findings of a new unpublished study and, importantly, supports that this observational study does not show that low calorie sweeteners are related to low fertility rates.
The study, which is due to be presented on Wednesday, 19th October, in an oral poster session at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine congress in Salt Lake City, claims that the consumption of low calorie sweeteners negatively affects oocyte quality and Intra-Cytoplasmic sperm injection(ICSI) outcomes, and therefore is related to lower fertility rates in women taking in-vitro fertilisation (IVF). However, it cannot provide evidence that low calorie sweeteners cause any fertility problems in women and does not prove causation due to its observational nature.
Conducted by a Fertility Medical Group in Sao Paolo, this research has not been published in a scientific journal and has not undergone any peer-review process by experts, therefore we can only comment based on the abstract published in the congress proceedings 1. In fact, the alarming headlines used in the media in advance of its presentation at this congress or publication in a peer-reviewed journal does raise serious questions and concerns about the source of information.
Furthermore, the methodology used in this study, as described poorly in the abstract, seems to have a number of important limitations. Importantly, the study has not taken into account a number of confounding factors such as the quality of the overall diet, the high possibility that women who were using low calorie sweeteners were also obese or had polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOs) or other factors affecting fertility rates.
Low calorie sweeteners can be a safe and helpful tool for women to follow a healthy, balanced and calorie-controlled diet. There is also strong evidence supporting that substituting low calorie sweeteners for sugar in foods and beverages can help people, including women in reproductive age, reduce their calorie intake and manage more effectively their body weight. 2