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Are Low-Cal Sweeteners Helpful of Harmful?

Today we would like to share with our readers an introduction done by Melissa Davis, and also a link provided by her, to educate you further on the health issues about sweeteners.  We also have previous articles available on our blog regarding the topic of sugars and sweeteners for your viewing.

Recent studies indicate that sugar is a main culprit for an array of diseases and conditions, including obesity, heart disease and diabetes. The new Dietary Guidelines for Americans has issued strong advice that our sugar intake be curtailed to no more than 10 per cent of our daily calories, which leads us to beg the question: are artificial sweeteners a safe alternative?

Safety Issues

Thus far, the issue of whether or not approved sweeteners like aspartame, sucralose and neotame, are a help or a hindrance, has not been settled definitively. The European Food Safety Authority Panel on Food Additives has stated that aspartame in the amounts commonly consumed is safe, unless someone suffers from a rare genetic abnormality called phenylketonuria (PKU). Their guidelines indicate that intake of this sweetener should be limited to below 40mg per kilogram of body weight a day (equivalent to a 132-pound adult consuming 12 cans of diet soda a day for the rest of their life). In the United States, the acceptable daily amount is 50mg/kg/day and most Americans consume much less than this. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), meanwhile, stated that some low-cal sweeteners “have shown good safety over time.”

Still, the AAP did not go so far as to recommend replacing added sugars with low-cal sweeteners; rather, they stated that water was the preferred beverage, expressing concern about a possible association between aspartame and the risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma and myeloma in men (however, association is not causation and there is currently no evidence which suggests that aspartame has carcinogenic effects).

Low Calorie Sweeteners and Weight Loss

The US Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee has reported that low-calorie sweeteners can help reduce calorie intake and excess body weight, yet many other scientists have expressed a concern that sweet drinks and products, even when sweetened artificially, can increase cravings for sweet foods. The French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety (ANSES) – a non-profit public authority in France whose mission includes human risk assessment having to do with food – carried out a review of existing studies on the matter and suggested that there was no evidence that the use of low-cal sweeteners causes habituation to sweet tastes and an increased appetite for sweet foods. However, once again, there is to date not enough research to recommend the use of low-calories sweeteners as a strategy for long-term weight loss and maintenance.

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