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Artificial sweeteners: a place in the field of functional foods? Focus on obesity and related metabolic disorders

Raben, Annea; Richelsen, Bjørnb

Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care: November 2012 - Volume 15 - Issue 6 - p 597–604
doi: 10.1097/MCO.0b013e328359678a
FUNCTIONAL FOODS AND DIETARY SUPPLEMENTS: Edited by Nathalie M. Delzenne and Gerard E. Mullin

Purpose of review Artificial sweeteners can be a helpful tool to reduce energy intake and body weight and thereby risk for diabetes and cardiovascular diseases (CVD). Considering the prevailing diabesity (obesity and diabetes) epidemic, this can, therefore, be an important alternative to natural, calorie-containing sweeteners. The purpose of this review is to summarize the current evidence on the effect of artificial sweeteners on body weight, appetite, and risk markers for diabetes and CVD in humans.

Recent findings Short-term intervention studies have shown divergent results wrt appetite regulation, but overall artificial sweeteners cannot be claimed to affect hunger. Data from longer term intervention studies are scarce, but together they point toward a beneficial effect of artificial sweeteners on energy intake, body weight, liver fat, fasting and postprandial glycemia, insulinemia, and/or lipidemia compared with sugar. Epidemiological studies are not equivocal, but large cohort studies from the USA point toward decreased body weight and lower risk of type-2 diabetes and coronory heart diseases with increased intake of artificial sweeteners compared with sugar.

Summary Artificial sweeteners, especially in beverages, can be a useful aid to maintain reduced energy intake and body weight and decrease risk of type-2 diabetes and CVD compared with sugars. However, confirmative long-term intervention trials are still needed.

aDepartment of Human Nutrition, University of Copenhagen, Frederiksberg

bDepartment of Internal Medicine and Endocrinology (MEA), Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark

Correspondence to Anne Raben, Faculty of SCIENCE, Department of Human Nutrition, University of Copenhagen, Rolighedsvej 30, 1958 Frederiksberg C, Denmark. E-mail:

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.