MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Prof. Peter J. Rogers PhD
School of Experimental Psychology
University of Bristol, Bristol, UK
Medical Research: What is the background for this study?
Prof. Rogers: In recent years low-calorie sweeteners have been in the headlines because of concern that they may undermine rather than help with healthy weight management. That concern is based on selective reporting of studies and outright speculation. Our aim was to review the totality of evidence on this subject, which included results from human and animal (mouse and rat) studies.
Medical Research: What are the main findings?
Prof. Rogers: We found that randomised, controlled intervention trials in humans showed consistently that low-calorie sweeteners versus sugar consumption reduced energy intake and body weight, with no effect or even reduced body weight compared with consumption of water. These types of studies provide the strongest form of evidence – superior to animal and observational studies. In the animal studies, exposure to low-calorie sweeteners was mostly not representative of how people consume low-calorie sweeteners.
Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?
Prof. Rogers: Low-calorie sweetened beverages can be helpful in weight management when used in place of sugar-sweetened beverages. Low-calorie sweeteners do not appear to increase energy intake or body weight compared with the consumption of water. Indeed, in some contexts low-calorie sweeteners may be better than water perhaps, for example, because switching from sugar-sweetened beverages to low-calorie sweetened beverages is an easier dietary change to make than switching to water. However, consumption of low-calorie sweeteners should not be used as an excuse for relaxing control over other aspects of one’s diet.
Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Prof. Rogers: Further studies comparing the effect on body weight of consuming low-calorie sweeteners with water would strengthen the evidence on this important comparison. These studies might also investigate the impact of exposure to low-calorie sweeteners on desire for sweetness in the diet. Although it has been speculated that this might increase sweet tooth, it is also possible consuming a low-calorie sweetened beverage within a meal will, for example, reduce rather than increase desire for a sweet dessert.
P J Rogers, P S Hogenkamp, C de Graaf, S Higgs, A Lluch, A R Ness, C Penfold, R Perry, P Putz, M R Yeomans, D J Mela. Does low-energy sweetener consumption affect energy intake and body weight? A systematic review, including meta-analyses, of the evidence from human and animal studies. International Journal of Obesity, 2015; DOI:10.1038/ijo.2015.177
Prof. Peter J. Rogers PhD (2015). Low Calorie Sweeteners Not Linked To Weight Gain