Are Artificial sweeteners better than Added Sugars?

Food Sweeteners are divided into nutritive (those that have carbs/sugars and give calories) and non-nutritive (those that are calorie-free or contain minimal calories – no sugar, no carbs). Because added sugars have been linked to chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, cancer, and heart disease, people constantly search for alternatives to satisfy their sweet tooth without adverse effects. But are artificial sweeteners better than added sugar?

What are Nutritive Sweeteners?

These are sweeteners that give energy due to their sugar or carb content. While nutritive sweeteners include naturally occurring sugars in food, added sugars, and sugar alcohols, the added sugar intake is typically recommended to be limited, as excessive consumption of added sugars has been associated with various health risks. Added sugars or sweeteners (sugars and sugar alcohols) are added to foods and beverages during processing or preparation to enhance sweetness. Sugars include fructose, sucrose, dextrose, corn sugar, honey, and maltose, while sugar alcohols include xylitol, erythritol, sorbitol, mannitol, isomalt, and maltitol. Sugar alcohols are usually used in sugar-free processed foods such as chewing gums, candies, sugar-free chocolates, etc. because they give minimal calories.

All sugars have 4 grams of carbohydrate per level teaspoon and 4 calories per gram. The World Health Organization recommends that adults limit their intake of added sugars to less than 10% of their total daily energy intake. This is about 25g of sugar per day.

What are Artificial Sweeteners?

Artificial sweeteners are synthetic ingredients that give few or no calories and enhance the sweetness in foods. Some artificial sweeteners are 300-600 times sweeter than table sugar yet have little or no effect on blood sugar. Artificial or non-nutritive sweeteners include aspartame, Acesulfame-K, saccharin, sucralose, and cyclamate.

They are used for baked goods, confectioneries, dairy products, desserts, and zero-calorie sodas.

Can Artificial Sweeteners Enhance Weightloss?

Due to their low or no-calorie content, artificially sweetened foods have been marketed as aiding weight loss or maintaining a healthy weight. Artificial sweeteners can help reduce overall calorie intake by providing a sweet taste without the added calories from sugar. They can also reduce sugar cravings, especially in people that can go off sugar-sweetened beverages. However, some studies suggest that people taking artificially sweetened foods compensate for the calorie deficit by taking other calorie-dense foods. A review of studies, including clinical trials by the World Health Organisation, also show that artificial sweeteners only aid weight loss in short-term studies (about three months or less). Findings from prospective studies of nearly 10 years of follow-up have linked high intake of non-nutritive sweeteners to higher BMI and increased risk of Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

Can people with Type 2 diabetes take artificial sweeteners?

People with diabetes can use artificial sweeteners as they provide sweetness without significantly raising blood sugar levels. Unlike regular sugar, artificial sweeteners are low or zero in carbohydrates and do not significantly impact blood glucose levels when consumed in moderation.

People with diabetes can enjoy sweet-tasting foods and beverages without causing sharp increases in blood sugar. However, monitoring their overall carbohydrate intake is important, as other foods and drinks can affect blood sugar levels.

Commonly used artificial sweeteners, such as sucralose, aspartame, and stevia, have been approved as safe for consumption by regulatory bodies such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and can be used by people with diabetes.

Can Artificial Sweeteners Cause Cancer?

Various scientific reviews and studies over several decades have consistently found no clear evidence linking artificial sweeteners to human cancer. Although certain laboratory studies have linked saccharin at high doses with the development of bladder cancer in rats, and in 1981, however, mechanistic studies (studies examining how a substance works in the body) showed that saccharin causes cancer in rats does not apply in humans.

As with any food or ingredient, moderate intake of artificial sweeteners is critical.


Both nutritive and non-nutritive sweeteners can be taken as part of a healthy diet. Non-nutritive sweeteners cannot help with long-term weight loss, and it is crucial to take artificially sweetened foods in moderation as studies have associated high intake with obesity and increased risk of Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.


US Food and Drug Administration. Additional information about high-intensity sweeteners permitted for food in the United States.
. Updated May 26, 2015. Accessed July 29, 2016.
American Diabetes Association. American Heart Association/American Diabetes Association scientific statement: non-nutritive sweeteners: a potentially useful option — with caveats.
ada-aha-sweetener-statement.html – sthash.ZjkiflPh.dpuf
. Published July 9, 2012. Accessed July 29, 2016.

Fitch C, Keim KS, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: use of nutritive and non-nutritive sweeteners. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2012;112(5):739-758.


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