Study assesses impact of non-nutritive sweeteners on cardiometabolic health

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

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Sugar consumption has long been associated with diseases ranging from type 2 diabetes to periodontitis. This connection has led to the increasing popularity of non-nutritive sweeteners, such as aspartame, sucralose and stevioside. A recent review has examined the effect that routine consumption of these sweeteners has on cardiometabolic health.

The reviewers searched several medical databases to find randomised control trials (RCTs) and prospective cohort studies which concerned the consumption of non-nutritive sweeteners. Studies included in the review all evaluated individuals over the age of 12 and lasted a minimum of six months. Ultimately the researchers assessed 938 full-text articles and 37 studies to collate their results.

The researchers found that the primary outcome, in most studies, was a change in body mass index (BMI). Other outcomes included changes in body weight, glucose metabolism and hypertension. Data from the RCTs supported the claim that consumption of sweeteners resulted in weight loss, whereas observational studies found the opposite to be true.

In studies with follow-up periods of 10 years, intake of non-nutritive sweeteners was found to be associated with modest increases in body weight, BMI and waist circumference. Regarding the inconsistent findings between the RCTs and observational data, the reviewers note that caution is warranted until the long-term risks and benefits of non-nutritive sweeteners are understood known. This paper was published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.