The Rise of Artificial Sweetener Intake

On Jan.10, 2017 a study came out in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics about the increased intake of low-calorie sweeteners (LCS) from 1999-2012. The study lead was Allison Sylvetsky Meni, PhD, an assistant professor of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health.

The study found that there was a 200 percent increase of low-calorie sweeteners for children and 54 percent increase for adults during the 13-year time span. Using data from a cross-sectional study by National Health and Nutrition Evaluation Survey (NHANES), researchers saw a link between obesity and LCS consumption. As BMI increased, so did the likelihood of consuming LCS.

Despite the lack of scientific concurrence on the health impacts of LCS--there are studies showing they can help with weight loss and weight gain--there are better alternatives to “light” and “no sugar added” products, as outlined by Sylvetsky.

In an email interview she stated:

“While several potential mechanisms explaining the link between LCS and weight gain have been proposed, one possible explanation is that exposure to LCS, which are intensely sweet, may promote a preference for sweetness and may also lead to craving and seeking more highly sweet foods and beverages, which are often also high in calories.”

70 percent of LCS intake is done at home, so this means that parents are buying such products for their families under the false assumption that they are healthier replacements. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains is much more preferable.