ISA statement in response to study by Dalenberg et al.
Brussels, 4th March 2020*: The International Sweeteners Association (ISA) responds to a new study by Dalenberg et al.1 Contrary to the claims by Dalenberg et al., the collective evidence including from systematic reviews confirms that sucralose does not affect acute or longer-term glycaemic control in both healthy individuals and in people with diabetes.2,3,4
Importantly also, any effect on glucose metabolism of the combination of low/no calorie sweeteners like sucralose with carbohydrates, as claimed by Dalenberg et al., has not been confirmed by several other studies, including clinical trials, which have looked at the impact of the consumption of a low/no calorie sweetener together with a carbohydrate load or meal.5,6,7,8 Other experts have rejected the study’s conclusions, upon re-analysing the results.9 Contrary to the findings by Dalenberg et al., Khan and Sievenpiper found that combining sucralose with a carbohydrate had the same impact on glucose metabolism when compared to the carbohydrate alone.9 This confirms that sucralose, consumed either alone or with a carbohydrate, does not affect by itself glucose metabolism or tolerance.
Furthermore, none of the mechanisms proposed by Dalenberg et al. to explain a potential metabolic dysfunction due to the combination of low/no calorie sweeteners and carbohydrates has been confirmed in humans.2 Interestingly, the study findings actually refute the ‘sweet uncoupling’ hypothesis that was originally tested by Dalenberg et al.: in contrast, the study results suggest that the sucralose-sweetened beverage did not significantly influence glucose metabolism and produced no effect on brain or perceptual response to sweet taste.
At a time when obesity and non-communicable diseases including diabetes remain major global health challenges, and in light of current public health recommendations to reduce overall sugar intake, low/no calorie sweeteners including sucralose can be helpful in creating healthier food environments. They provide people with a wide choice of sweet-tasting options with low or no calories, and thus can be a useful tool, when used in place of sugar and as part of a balanced diet, in helping reduce overall sugar and calorie intake, as well as in managing blood glucose levels. Low/no calorie sweeteners are also not fermentable by oral bacteria, which means that they do not contribute to tooth decay.
* updated 1st April 2021