Science news on low/no calorie sweeteners (Part B): 2021 scientific events in review

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Highlights:

  • Data from newly published studies conducted in Argentina, Chile, and Peru show that the intake levels of common low/no calorie sweeteners are below their respective Acceptable Daily Intakes (ADIs).
  • Scientific experts suggest that the collective evidence supports the assertion that when used in place of sugar, low/no calorie sweeteners may help in weight management.
  • New meta-analyses presented in a scientific congress this year found that the substitution of sugary drinks with beverages containing low/no calorie sweeteners shows benefits in cardiometabolic risk factors.

 

In 2021, a new reality was shaped regarding the format of scientific events. Hybrid events became popular, allowing for both in-person and online attendance, while scientific webinars still attracted interest and high attendance. The ISA attended, organised and supported externally organised scientific events, in collaboration with scientific organisations around the world.

ISA-FDC webinar: “Low/no calorie sweeteners in the current public health debate: From safety to efficacy”

At a webinar organised by the International Sweeteners Association (ISA) and the Colombian Diabetology Federation (FDC), invited academic speakers talked about the intake levels, safety and health effects of low/no calorie sweeteners. Of note, the outcomes of a recently published study by Barraj et al (2021) on the intake assessment of low/no calorie sweeteners in three Latin American countries were presented for the first time at this webinar. The study results showed that the estimated intakes of the six most commonly used low/no calorie sweeteners were below their respective Acceptable Daily Intakes (ADIs) in Argentina, Chile, and Peru, even when the most conservative assumptions were applied.1

You may watch on demand the webinar on “Low/no calorie sweeteners in the current public health debate: From safety to efficacy” (in Spanish), by clicking here: https://www.sweeteners.org/online-education/isa-fdc-webinar-low-no-calorie-sweeteners-in-the-current-public-health-debate-from-safety-to-efficacy-spanish-2/

SFN workshop: “Low/no calorie sweeteners and sugar reduction”

In an article published in the scientific journal Cahiers de Nutrition et de Diététique2, the authors summarised the outcomes of a series of three scientific webinars organised by the French Nutrition Society (Société Française de Nutrition – SFN) in February, 2021, which was supported by the ISA. The authors explained that some individuals might see a modest but significant benefit in weight management when they use low/no calorie sweeteners in place of sugars, but this largely depends on their overall dietary habits and primarily on the level of sugar replacement. For example, the use of low/no calorie sweeteners can be helpful in excess sugars intake reduction especially in high sugar consumers. A case-by-case approach is recommended in clinical practice.

You may watch on demand the three webinars on “Low/no calorie sweeteners and sugar reduction” on the SFN website (in French), here: https://sf-nutrition.fr/2020/12/15/workshop-isa-sfn-edulcorants-et-reduction-de-sucre-02-16-23-fevrier-2021/

Symposium report from the FENS conference

In another scientific article published in the beginning of the year in the Journal of Nutritional Science, Gallagher and colleagues discussed the key outcomes of an ISA-supported scientific symposium organised at the 13th European Nutrition Conference (Federation of Nutritional Societies – FENS).3 The authors discussed the use of low/no calorie sweeteners in the context of sugar reduction policies. As indicated by public health authorities, such as Public Helath England, in order to achieve the recommended sugar reduction, the implementation of a range of public health strategies is needed, including reducing portion sizes, promoting healthier dietary choices and reformulating foods and beverages. Low/no calorie sweeteners can help in product reformulation as they allow to replace sugar and reduce calories in foods and beverages while maintaining sweet taste.

Low/no calorie sweeteners and cardiometabolic health: an emerging topic of research

Evidence from systematic reviews and meta-analyses on low/no calorie sweeteners and cardiometabolic health were presented at the 7th Annual Dubai International Nutrition Congress (DINC) 2021, held on 4-6 November 2021. A network meta-analysis of 14 randomised controlled trials (RCTs) found that with the intended substitution of sugar-sweetened beverages with drinks containing low/no calorie sweeteners, when caloric reduction is achieved, there was a statistically significant benefit in body weight and body fat decrease, as well as cardiometabolic benefits such as a reduction in liver fat.4

Another meta-analysis of 12 prospective cohort studies showed that the substitution of sugary drinks with low/no calorie sweetened beverages is associated with reductions in body weight, waist circumference, coronary heart disease incidence, cardiovascular disease mortality, and of all-cause mortality.5 However, the authors note that a meta-analysis of observational data provides lower quality of evidence due to the limitations of observational study design.

The authors of these studies add that there is a need for more well-controlled studies on this emerging topic, but also noted that there are several ongoing trials looking at the role of low/no calorie sweeteners on cardiometabolic health that will soon provide new evidence.

For more scientific news on low/no calorie sweeteners, we invite you to also read the article “Science news on low/no calorie sweeteners (Part A): 2021 in review” presenting a summary of key outcomes of interesting scientific studies that were published in 2021.

We hope you enjoyed reading our review of 2021 scientific events. From our side, we stay committed to continue bringing you the latest and key scientific news around low/no calorie sweeteners over the next year as well, and we wish you a happy and healthy 2022!

  1. Barraj L, Bi X, Tran N. Screening level intake estimates of low and no-calorie sweeteners in Argentina, Chile and Peru. Food Additives & Contaminants: Part A. 2021;38(12):1995-2011. doi: 10.1080/19440049.2021.1956692. Epub 2021 Aug 30.
  2. Morio B. and Guy-Grand B. Édulcorants et réduction du sucre. Synthèse du workshop de laSFN en partenariat avec l’International Sweeteners Association (ISA) donné en trois webséries du 02/02 au 23/02/2021. Cahiers de Nutrition et de Diététique 2021. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cnd.2021.04.001
  3. Gallagher AM , Ashwell M, Halford JCG, Hardman CA, Maloney NG and Raben A. Low-calorie sweeteners in the human diet: scientific evidence, recommendations, challenges and future needs. A symposium report from the FENS 2019 conference. Journal of Nutritional Science 2021; 10:E7. doi:10.1017/jns.2020.59
  4. McGlynn et al (submitted article). Network Meta-analyses of Artificially Sweetened Beverages and Cardiometabolic Risk. ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT02879500
  5. Lee et al (article under review). Meta-analysis of Low-calorie Sweetened Beverages and Cardiometabolic Outcomes. ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT04245826