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Research Updates | Obesity / Overweight

Does low-energy sweetener consumption affect energy intake and body weight?

01 / 03 / 16

Rogers PJ, Hogenkamp PS, de Graaf C, Higgs S, Lluch A, Ness AR, Penfold C, Perry R, P, Yeomans MR, Mela DJ. Does low-energy sweetener consumption affect energy intake and body weight? A systematic review, including meta-analyses, of the evidence from human and animal studies Int J Obes (Lond). 2015 Sep 14 

Convincing evidence for long term beneficial effects of low energy sweeteners (LES) is lacking and this systematic review set out to bring together the totality of evidence.

While most animal studies did not mimic LES consumption by humans, in 62 out of 90 animal studies, LES did not affect or decrease body weight (BW). In humans, twelve prospective cohort studies show inconsistent associations between LES use and BMI. In sustained dietary intervention trials consumption of LES led to reduced BW, and similar reduction in BW versus water.

The authors conclude that evidence from animal and human studies indicate that LES do not increase energy intake or body weight when compared with caloric conditions or water (some authors have suggested that LES use may actually increase overweight/obesity risk), and overall use of LES in place of sugar in children and adults leads to reduced energy intake and body weight, and possibly also when compared to water.