The Persistent Mythology of Sweeteners

The mythology of sweeteners seems impervious to facts. Once more, a systematic review of the available evidence — this one just published in the International Journal of Obesity — concludes that:

The balance of evidence indicates that use of low energy sweeteners in place of sugar, in children and adults, leads to reduced energy intake and body weight, and possibly also when compared with water.

Yet consumers are running from them like the plague. Sales of diet soda continues to drop, while sugary soda is showing growth. Consumers, it seems, have been persuaded by psueudo-science that diet soda is just chemicals in a can. The facts are irrelevant in this situation. Everywhere, you can find “experts” describing supposed dangers of sugar substitutes. One of the most persistent theories is that they promote bad dietary habits that lead to weight gain. Of course there’s no real evidence that it’s actually true.

In truth, what’s more likely to promote bad dietary habits is bad advice based on personal bias rather than objective facts. Such bad advice may be having an indirect effect of promoting sugar consumption.

Click here to read the new study in IJO. Click here for more on fizzling diet soda sales.

Sugars, photograph © Roey Ahram / flickr

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September 27, 2015