Myth of the Month
Q: Low-calorie sweeteners actually cause weight gain by increasing sugar cravings - myth or fact?
A: Myth. A number of studies over the years have determined that low-calorie sweeteners do not increase appetite, food intake or weight gain. In fact, the vast majority of scientific literature confirms the safety and benefits of using low-calorie sweeteners and low-calorie products for weight control and weight loss. For example, a team of researchers from Harvard spent two years investigating how the addition of a low-calorie sweetener to a multidisciplinary weight control program would affect obese women. They found the low-calorie sweetener not only helped with weight loss, but also with long-term weight maintenance. In another report published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers reviewed 224 professional studies on the effects of non-nutritive sweeteners on appetite, food intake and weight. They concluded that low-calorie sweeteners "have the potential to aid in weight management." And according to a recent study published in the International Journal of Obesity, consumption of sugar-free beverages sweetened with low-calorie sweeteners increases dietary restraint, a key aspect of successful weight maintenance. American Diabetes Association, Association of Nutrition and Dietetics and the American Heart Association agree that reduced-calorie foods and beverages are a good option for those who want to control their weight and maintain a better lifestyle. However, it's important to remember that low-calorie sweeteners and the products that contain them are not “magic bullets” for weight loss. Instead, they are tools to be used as part of an overall weight control program, which includes a reduction in calories and an increase in activity.
For the previous Myth of the Month, click here.