by Marion Nestle
Jun 20 2023

Artificial sweeteners: the backlash

This has not been a good year for artificial sweeteners.

The World Health Organization says don’t use them for weight control and don’t give them to children.

The recommendation is based on the findings of a systematic review of the available evidence which suggests that use of NSS does not confer any long-term benefit in reducing body fat in adults or children. Results of the review also suggest that there may be potential undesirable effects from long-term use of NSS, such as an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and mortality in adults.

US Right to Know says: Aspartame: Decades of science point to serious health risks  

And now, researchers say Splenda is not all that great either:
Overall, the toxicological and pharmacokinetic findings for sucralose-6-acetate raise significant health concerns regarding the safety and regulatory status of sucralose itself.
The FDA says the artificial sweeteners on the market are Generally Recognized as Safe at amounts typically used.  These include:
  • Acesulfame potassium (Sweet One, Sunett).
  • Advantame.
  • Aspartame (NutraSweet, Equal).
  • Neotame (Newtame).
  • Saccharin (Sweet’N Low).
  • Sucralose (Splenda).
  • Luo han guo (Monk Fruit in the Raw).
  • Purified stevia leaf extracts (Truvia, PureVia, others)
I was curious to see what the Mayo Clinic made of all this:

In general, it is safest to take in small amounts of sugar substitutes. And it’s best to use sugar substitutes for a short time, or just every once in a while. So try to cut back if you use them a few times a day…In general, sugar substitutes are safe for healthy adults…But artificial sweeteners can help some people enjoy sweetness without excess calories. And if used in moderation, artificial sweeteners can be part of a healthy diet.

How’s that for a clear message?

For me, this issue is a no-brainer.  One of my food rules is not to eat anything artificial, so sweeteners are off my dietary radar.

My advice for anyone else?

  • If you must use them, try to minimize.
  • And don’t give them to kids.