Vast Preponderance of Science Shows Low-Calorie Sweeteners Don't Impact Glucose, Insulin Levels, Are Useful Option for People with Diabetes

News Background from the IFIC Foundation

September 17, 2014 – A study published today in the journal Nature suggesting an adverse impact of low-calorie sweeteners (also commonly referred to as non-nutritive or artificial sweeteners, or sugar substitutes) on blood glucose levels, has many shortcomings that prevent it from being applied to humans, as well as to the broader consumer population. Moreover, several well-done studies in humans have shown low-calorie sweeteners do not adversely impact glucose and insulin levels, indicating that they can be safely used by consumers, including people with diabetes, to manage calorie and carbohydrate intake.

The Nature paper is limited in several ways, including the inability to apply findings in mice directly and uniformly to humans; small sample sizes of the studies, and the use of amounts and forms of low-calorie sweeteners that would not be found in a real life scenario. In addition, observational findings cannot be used to conclude a causal relationship, as other confounding factors that may have played a role in the results must be accounted for.

“The fact that this study’s findings are so vastly different from the preponderance of science on this issue is a signal to those evaluating it that there may be issues with the study design,” says Marianne Smith Edge, MS, RD, LD, FADA, Senior Vice President of Nutrition and Food Safety at the International Food Information Council. When evaluating new studies, it is important to ask several basic questions about the study’s objectives, conclusions, and design in order to determine if the results are relevant and/or compelling. IFIC Foundation’s “Evaluating Scientific Evidence” resource walks through the steps to evaluating a study’s credibility.

In addition, IFIC Foundation’s newly revised “Facts About Low-Calorie Sweeteners,” released today, contains the latest studies that support the efficacy of low-calorie sweeteners for weight management, as well as the positions of credible health organizations, such as the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, American Diabetes Association, and American Heart Association regarding the safe use of low-calorie sweeteners in reducing calorie and carbohydrate intake.

For a detailed breakdown of limitations in the methodology and a comparison to other low-calorie sweetener studies, check out the FACTS Network piece 'Of Mice and Media: A Credulous Response to an Iffy Sweetener Study.'

If you would like to speak to an expert about low-calorie sweeteners and their impact on health, please contact Matt Raymond (raymond@ific.org) or call 202-296-6540.

IFIC Foundation Resources on Low-Calorie Sweeteners:

The International Food Information Council Foundation is dedicated to the mission of effectively communicating science-based information on health, food safety and nutrition for the public good. The IFIC Foundation is supported primarily by the broad-based food, beverage and agricultural industries. Visit http://www.foodinsight.org