I am speaking at the Con Edison Science, Technology, Energy, Environment, and Math (STEEM) Distinguished Lecturer series on “Food Politics 2020: Food Industry Influence on Nutrition Research and Practice.” It’s from 12:15-1:30 pm at the Science Building, C-201. Details are here.
Do artificial sweeteners do any good?
A study by European investigators concluded that artificial (non-sugar) sweeteners [NSS] had no particular benefits for health.
Most health outcomes did not seem to have differences between the NSS exposed and unexposed groups. Of the few studies identified for each outcome, most had few participants, were of short duration, and their methodological and reporting quality was limited; therefore, confidence in the reported results is limited.
However, the accompanying editorial by Vasanti Malik concludes:
Based on existing evidence including long term cohort studies with repeated measurements and high quality trials with caloric comparators, use of NSS as a replacement for free sugars (particularly in sugar sweetened beverages) could be a helpful strategy to reduce cardiometabolic risk among heavy consumers, with the ultimate goal of switching to water or other healthy drinks.
On this basis, the Calorie Control Council, the trade group that represents the makers of artificial sweeteners issued a statement rebutting the study:
In alignment with the conclusions made by Dr. Malik, the Calorie Control Council agrees that the highest quality science supports that LNCS [low- and no-calorie sweeteners] can be consumed as part of a balanced diet and can assist with the reduction of cardiometabolic risk through the management of body weight and reduced caloric intake.
Given the proven safety and benefits of LNCS, consumers should continue to be confident in including these ingredients as part of a healthy diet.
Note the conditional “could” and “can.” Artificial sweeteners might help, but you can’t count on them for miracles.