Dr France Bellisle
Epidémiologie Nutritionnelle, University of Paris 13, France
After obtaining degrees in experimental psychology in Canadian and French universities, France has devoted her career to original research in the field of human ingestive behaviours. Her research interests include all types of determinants of food and fluid intake in human consumers, including psychological, sensory and metabolic factors as well as environmental influences. In particular, she has investigated the psycho-biological mechanisms of body weight control and the early life factors affecting obesity in children. France has published over 250 articles (original data and reviews) in international peer-reviewed journals and contributed to several books.
The Human Appetite for Sweetness from early life to adulthood, food choices and weight management Sweetness is a potent psychobiological stimulus for many animal species, including human consumers of all ages. Human newborns display an innate attraction to sweet substances, manifested by eager acceptance and a stereotyped gusto-facial reflex of relaxation and smile. Similar responses have been reported in human fetuses at the end of gestation, when taste receptors in the mouth become functional. As it does in other species, the appetite for sweetness spontaneously decreases during growth and human adults vary largely in their preferred intensity of sweetness in a broad range of beverages and foods .
The potent attraction of human consumers to sweet tasting substances is a strong determinant of food preferences and consumption . It has been suggested that it may stimulate overeating and play a decisive role in weight gain over the long term. Indeed, since sugars bring 4 kcal per gram, the consumption of sugar-containing foods and beverages can contribute to an excessive energy intake that will induce weight gain. In order to allow consumers to enjoy the palatable sweet taste of many favorite foods and drinks without the energy load of sugar, various intense, low-energy sweetening agents have been developed. These substances have different chemo-physical structures but share a very high sweetening power compared to sugars, so that they are used in minute amounts to confer the desired level of sweetness to foods and drinks, while contributing very little or no energy at all to the final product. It has been suggested, however, that these products may enhance the natural appetite for sweetness and paradoxically stimulate the consumption of other sweet products.
The present review will address the scientific literature exploring appetite effects of low-energy sweeteners. In particular, studies published in recent years showing how the use of low-energy sweeteners affects consumers’ appetite for all sweet tasting products will be presented. The conditions allowing a beneficial use of low-energy sweeteners in terms of body weight control, as revealed by the scientific literature over the past 30 years, will be discussed.
- Mennella, J.A. Ontogeny of taste preferences: basic biology and implications for health. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2014; 99 (Suppl.): 704S-711S
- Bellisle, F. intense sweeteners, appetite for the sweet taste, and relationship to weight management. Current Obesity Reports. 2015; doi 10.1007/s13679-014-0133-8.
- Article by Dr Bellisle on Intense Sweeteners, Appetite for the Sweet Taste, and Relationship to Weight Management, published in Current Obesity Reports - accessible by clicking here.
- Unedited manuscript of the review by Prof Rogers on Does low-energy sweetener consumption affect energy intake and body weight? A systematic review, including meta-analyses, of the evidence from human and animal studies, published in International Journal of Obesity - accessible by clicking here.