International experts in health science agree on benefits of low calorie sweeteners – A peer review featured in December issue of the Nutrition Bulletin

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Brussels, 1st December 2014: World-class, multidisciplinary independent experts, Sigrid Gibson, Prof Adam Drewnowski, Prof James Hill, Prof Eeva Widström, Prof Hely Tuorila and Prof Anne Raben1, came together on the occasion of the International Sweeteners Association (ISA) Conference earlier this year and took the opportunity to collaborate on a review of low calorie sweeteners’ (LCS) benefits drawing on scientific research.

The consensus amongst experts in their fields is that, yes, low calorie sweeteners do work”, said Prof Adam Drewnowski, adding: “all the toxicological and safety work done by international agencies has repeatedly attested to their safety and efficacy”.

The Consensus statement on the benefits of low-calorie sweeteners, published in the December 2014 issue of Nutrition Bulletin – a peer-reviewed journal which provides news and scientific reviews – outlines the beneficial role that low calorie sweeteners can play in diet and lifestyle choices. Conclusions confirm positive results from recent scientific studies showing that LCS do not increase appetite and have no discernible effect on satiety, and can, in fact, enhance weight loss under real-life conditions when used as part of a behavioural weight loss programme.

Furthermore, experts agree that low calorie sweeteners can have a beneficial effect on post-prandial glucose and insulin in healthy individuals and in people with diabetes, with a positive impact on dental health when used in food, beverages, toothpaste and medications, provided other constituents are also non-cariogenic and non-erosive.

By drawing attention to the wealth of recent evidence-based research about the benefits of low calorie sweeteners, the paper addresses misperceptions and misinformation about the effects of LCS. Moreover, it reminds health care professionals and the general public of the endorsement low calorie sweeteners have received from regulatory authorities around the world.

Weight management is one of the primary reasons people use low calorie sweeteners, and I think now we have just a tremendous number of studies that show that low calorie sweeteners are positive, not negative, tools for weight management”, points out Prof James Hill, concluding “that is a message that needs to be more widely understood”.

By providing sweetness without the calories, low calorie sweetened options can make a useful contribution to a healthy, calorie-controlled diet. They are also kind to teeth.

The consensus paper is available for download via the editor’s website by clicking here.

Notes to the editor

For access to the science, please find below a non-exhaustive list of studies on the topic:

  • Anderson GH, Foreyt J, Sigman-Grant M et al. (2012) The use of low-calorie sweeteners by adults: impact on weight management. The Journal of Nutrition 142: 1163S–9S.
  • Bryant CE, Wasse LK, Astbury N et al. (2014) Non-nutritive sweeteners: no class effect on the glycaemic or appetite responses to ingested glucose. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 68: 629–31.
  • Drewnowski A (2013) Dietary habits and use of low-calorie sweeteners: an effective tool in the prevention of obesity and diabetes. Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism 63 (Suppl. 1): 147–8.
  • EFSA NDA (EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products Nutrition and Allergies (2011) 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 Journal 9: 2229.
  • Keskitalo K, Tuorila H, Spector TD et al. (2007) Same genetic components underlie different measures of sweet taste preference. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 86: 1663–9.
  • Mattes RD & Popkin BM (2009) Nonnutritive sweetener consumption in humans: effects on appetite and food intake and their putative mechanisms. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 89: 1–14.
  • Miller PE & Perez V (2014) Low-calorie sweeteners and body weight and composition: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials and prospective cohorts studies. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.113.082826.
  • Peters JC, Wyatt HR, Foster GD, Hill JO et al. (2014) The effects of water and non-nutritive sweetened beverages on weight loss during a 12 week weight loss treatment program. Obesity 22: 1415–21.
  • Raben A, Moller BK, Flint A et al. (2011) Increased postprandial glycaemia, insulinemia, and lipidemia after 10 weeks’ sucrose-rich diet compared to an artificially sweetened diet: a randomised controlled trial. Food & Nutrition Research 55: 5961. doi: 10.3402/ fnr.v55i0.5961.

1 S. Gibson, Sig-Nurture, Ltd., Guildford, Surrey, UK; A. Drewnowski, University of Washington Center for Obesity Research, Washington, DC, USA; J. Hill, Anschutz Health and Wellness Center, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO, USA; A. B. Raben, Department of Human Nutrition, University of Copenhagen, Denmark; H. Tuorila, Department of Food and Environmental Sciences, University of Helsinki, Finland; E. Widström, National Institute for Health and Welfare, Helsinki, Finland.