(HealthDay News) — Although the evidence is limited, nonnutritive sweeteners (NNS) have a potential role to play in facilitating reduction of added sugar intake, as long as they do not cause a compensatory increase in energy intake, according to a new scientific statement issued by the American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association and published online July 9 in Circulation.

Christopher Gardener, Ph.D., from Stanford University in California, and colleagues conducted a literature search to examine the potential role of NNS in facilitating reduction of added sugar intake in humans.

The authors note that few studies focus on the specific role of NNS in facilitating reduction of added sugars. The most obvious potential benefit of NNS is substitution of energy from added sugars. However, for NNS-sweetened items to contribute successfully to a reduction in calories from added sugars they must avoid causing a compensatory energy intake. Existing data suggest that there is a partial compensation. Further research into the mechanisms of potential NNS effects would facilitate and complement research in the area of energy compensation. In general, NNS do not seem to affect glycemic response in individuals with diabetes, but clinical trials are needed to determine the long-term effect on body weight regulation and glycemic control.

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“The evidence reviewed suggests that, when used judiciously, NNS could facilitate reductions in added sugars intake, thereby resulting in decreased total energy and weight loss/weight control, and promoting beneficial effects on related metabolic parameters,” the authors write. “However, these potential benefits will not be fully realized if there is a compensatory increase in energy intake from other sources.”

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the nutrition industry.

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