Do Artificial Sweeteners Lead to Decreased Energy Intake and Body Weight?

Do Artificial Sweeteners Lead to Decreased Energy Intake and Body Weight?

Title: Does low-energy sweetener consumption affect energy intake and body weight? A systematic review, including metaanalyses, of the evidence from human and animal studies

Author: Rogers et al

Journal: International Journal of Obesity (2016, 40, 381-394)

Objective: To test the.. hypotheses that low-energy sweetener consumption per se or as a replacement for caloric sweeteners in foods or beverages has no effect on energy intake or body weight outcomes in adults or children.

Background

Low energy sweeteners are consumed worldwide. Examples include:

  • Acesulfame-k (Sunett, Sweet One)
  • Aspartame (Nutrasweet, Equal)
  • Saccharin (Sweet’N Low)
  • Stevia
  • Sucralose (Splenda)

The nutritional impact of artificial sweeteners is controversial. Many of the results evaluating health benefits are inconclusive and have often revealed mixed and inconsistent findings. As a result, researchers, dietitians, and consumers have a very difficult time determining which, if any, artificial sweeteners are acceptable alternatives to table sugar.

It remains unclear whether artificial sweeteners decrease or increase your risk of becoming overweight or obese.

Although consumption of low energy sweeteners should reduce overall energy intake when compared to equivalent intake of normal energy foods, this too remains an area of controversy. One area of concern is that artificial sweeteners will artificially suppress appetite, leading to individuals eating more net calories.

It’s also unclear how beverages with artificial sweeteners compare to water.

The authors wanted to look at the entirety of research on the subject and attempt to draw some larger conclusions.

Methods

The authors completed a systematic review or relevant studies in animals or humans consuming artificial sweeteners.

Ultimately, they included 90 total animal studies and 161 total human studies.

Results

In 62 of 90 animal studies , or roughly ⅔, exposure to low energy sweeteners did not affect or decreased body weight.

In the 129 short-term randomized, controlled trials, they found reduced total energy intake for artificial sweeteners versus sugar sweetened food and beverage (−94 kcal, 95% CI −122 to −66). In these shorter studies, there was no difference versus water (−2 kcal, 95% CI −30 to 26).

In the 10 longer, sustained clinical trials they found similar results for energy intake.

The sustained intervention trials also demonstrated that consumption of artificial sweeteners versus sugar lead to an approximately 1.4 kg or 3 lb weight loss (nine comparisons; −1.35 kg, 95% CI –2.28 to −0.42) and a similar relative reduction in body weight versus water (three comparisons; −1.24 kg, 95% CI –2.22 to −0.26).

Conclusions

In the broadest strokes, the evidence is convincing that consumption of artificial or low energy sweeteners in place of sugar is helpful in reducing energy intake and body weight.

Surprisingly, consumption of artificially sweetened beverages on body weight was neutral compared to water.

These findings suggest, to me at least, that artificial sweetened beverages could be used to help aid in body weight management and weight loss. How to best do that remains unclear.

I would be more guarded with conclusions about water and not ditch H2O just yet.

This study also does not address any safety issues associated with long term use of these sweeteners.

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