The Food Journal and Food, Nutrition & Science

An alliance between The Lempert Report and The Center for Food Integrity

Top Four Reasons to Enjoy Low-Calorie Sweeteners

Top Four Reasons to Enjoy Low-Calorie Sweeteners

Dietitian Dialogues

May 23, 2010

Why is it that one of the most effective tools for maintaining a healthy weight also happens to be the most misunderstood? Low-calorie sweeteners are an easy way to enjoy sweet-tasting foods and beverages without excess calories. Yet many shoppers today shy away from them because of sensationalized inaccurate information.  

Help clear up the confusion with your customers and give them the straight facts about low-calorie sweeteners, such as acesulfame potassium (ace-K), aspartame (Nutrasweet® and Equal®), neotame, saccharin (Sweet ‘n Low®), sucralose (Splenda®), and rebiana, a high-purity form of stevia (Truvia®). 

1. Low-calorie sweeteners are safe.

Low-calorie sweeteners have been thoroughly tested and are carefully regulated by the United States, international regulatory authorities and various scientific organizations. 

Here in the U.S, an Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) must be established by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) prior to approval for any food ingredient, including low-calorie sweeteners. An ADI is the amount of an ingredient a person can safely consume every day over a lifetime without risk; it’s stated in milligrams per kilogram of body weight. Every ADI includes a wide margin of safety. Current intakes of low-calorie sweeteners are well below the ADI, and it’s very difficult for someone to consume enough to reach the ADI. For example, the ADI for aspartame translates to 27 servings (8 oz.) of Diet Coke, ® or 97 packets of Nutrasweet®! A complete sweetener ADI chart can be found at while extensive safety information is available at

2. Low-calorie sweeteners can be consumed by practically everyone, including children. 

All FDA-approved low-calorie sweeteners for use in foods and beverages are safe for nearly all populations. That includes children and teens, people with diabetes and women who are pregnant or lactating. While children and pregnant women can safely consume foods and beverages with low-calorie sweeteners, the advice of a registered dietitian is recommended to ensure adequate caloric intake and proper diet. Further information about low-calorie sweeteners as part of a balanced diet – and finding a registered dietitian by zip code – is available at the American Dietetic Association’s website,

The only exception with low-calorie sweeteners is for people born with a rare inherited disease, phenylketonuria (PKU); these individuals cannot metabolize phenylalanine and should avoid aspartame because it contains this amino acid. 
3. Low-calorie sweeteners do not cause cancer.

Nor do they cause any number of highly exaggerated, inaccurate health effects, such as seizures, infertility, headaches, insulin resistance, stomach ailments, and kidney and liver problems. Remember, low-calorie sweeteners are some of the most closely studied and regulated ingredients in the food supply.

Aspartame seems to take the brunt of the inaccurate cancer link. Credible, reputable and evidence-based scientific research has widely dispelled the cancer-aspartame link. Even the National Cancer Institute (NCI) has concluded that aspartame is not associated with increased risk of cancer. Furthermore, in 2007, an expert panel published a safety report on aspartame, which found “no credible evidence that aspartame is carcinogenic.” 

4. Low-calorie sweeteners do not cause weight gain. 

In fact, current research indicates individuals incorporating foods and beverages sweetened with low-calorie sweeteners in their diet in place of calorie-containing sweeteners actually consume fewer calories than people who do not. 

Keep in mind – and remind your customers, too – that one study showing any “link” or “correlation” does not mean “consensus.” In addition, link and correlation do NOT equal causation. Some scientific studies have design flaws. And research conducted with rats oftentimes cannot be directly applied to humans. 

Consumers who attempt to lose or maintain weight, yet still enjoy sweet-tasting beverages and foods, will delight in knowing that the clinical research over the past 20 years backs up the effectiveness of low-calorie sweeteners. Studies confirm they do not impact blood glucose or insulin response negatively, and there is no difference in satiety. 

The Bottom Line for Your Customers

Low-calorie sweeteners are effective tools to manage energy balance, which is especially important when aiming to cut calories AND satisfy that sweet tooth! Every calorie saved DOES add up and makes a difference with weight loss or maintenance. Your customers can find useful tips for incorporating low-calorie sweeteners and controlling calories at

Kim Galeaz is a Registered Dietitian and Nutrition Consultant to The Kroger Company, Central Division. She is also a Nutrition-Culinary Consultant to agriculture organizations, food manufacturers and beverage companies, including The Coca-Cola Company.