Research shows that people have an inborn desire for sweet taste, one of the four fundamental taste sensations. Also, studies with adults as well as infants have demonstrated that the pleasant response to sweet solutions is a reflex, innate reaction, rather than a learned response. It also is likely that sweetness was used in early times as an indicator of safety in selecting foods. This phenomenon may have led to the search for sources of additional sweetness (sweeteners) to make foods more palatable. According to Journal of Nutrition, "Studies of free-living users of LCS indicate that these sweeteners can be used in the context of a healthy diet for the purpose of limiting energy intake.”
Low-calorie sweeteners, used as sugar substitutes, provide consumers with a sweet taste without the calories or carbohydrates. Some low-calorie sweeteners are "nutritive," but are low in calories due to their intense sweetness (which is why they are sometimes called “intense sweeteners” or “high intensity sweeteners”). Because these sweeteners are much sweeter than sucrose, the amounts needed to achieve the desired sweetness are so small that they are considered virtually non-caloric. Many non-nutritive sweeteners are non-caloric because they are not metabolized and pass through the body unchanged. Currently, acesulfame potassium (acesulfame K), aspartame, neotame, polyols, rebaudioside A (stevia), saccharin and sucralose are some of the many low-calorie sweeteners (sugar substitutes) in the United States. Alitame and cyclamate are also used in various countries around the world.