Artificial Sweeteners and Obesity
Obesity is a complex problem without a single cause. A single component of the food supply, such as sugar, can't be blamed for obesity or weight gain, but research does show that non-nutritive sweeteners may promote weight loss in overweight and obese individuals when they replace the intake of sugar calories (sugar has 16 calories per teaspoon) with sugar substitutes. However, others raise the question of whether a sweet food environment increases the risk of obesity through appetite, intake and food regulation mechanisms. Preliminary studies on animals suggest that high intakes of artificial sweeteners may affect appetite control (i.e. by eating more sweet foods—artificially sweetened or not—you crave more of them). Therefore, the Beverage Guidance Panel recommends that adults consume no more than 32 ounces of artificially sweetened beverages daily. Individuals who want to use artificial sweeteners should do so within the context of a sensible weight-management program that includes a balanced diet and regular exercise.
Artificial Sweeteners and the Glycemic Response
Artificial sweeteners do not affect blood sugar levels or the glycemic response. Therefore, the American Diabetes Association states that non-nutritive sweeteners are appropriate for people with diabetes and may help control calorie intake. Individuals with diabetes should work with a Registered Dietitian and/or Certified Diabetes Educator to develop a customized eating plan. More information is available in SparkPeople's Type 2 Diabetes Resource Center. If you have diabetes or other reasons to watch your sugar intake, check with your health care provider before trying sugar substitutes; sugar-free doesn't always mean safe for everyone. Continued ›