Replacing sugar with sweeteners can improve weight loss in adults 

New research suggests that replacing sugar-sweetened food and drinks with low or no energy sweetened products can help weight control after rapid weight loss in adults.

Set to be presented at this year’s European Congress on Obesity (ECO), the study shows that sweeteners and sweetness enhancers are linked to greater diet satisfaction, more positive mood, fewer cravings and explicit liking for sweet foods in adults.

As a result, researchers suggest that replacing sugar with sweetened products can help weight control in adults for at least one year after rapid weight loss – and without increasing the risk of type 2 diabetes or cardiovascular disease.

The findings follow last year’s systematic review of the evidence by the World Health Organization (WHO), which suggested that replacing free sugars with non-sugar sweeteners did not appear to help with weight control in the long term.

Adverse health effects

‘Weight maintenance after weight loss is difficult to achieve, and our findings support the use of S&SEs found in many foods and beverages worldwide as alternatives to sugar-sweetened products to help manage weight control in adults with overweight,’ said trial lead author professor Anne Raben from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.

‘The findings also provide important information to address the controversies about potential adverse health effects. Until now, safety data have generally come from animal studies using sweetener doses far above the usual intake in humans.’

Professor Jason Halford is head of the School of Psychology at the University of Leeds. He said: ‘The use of low calorie sweeteners in weight management has been questioned, in part because of the link between their use and apparent weight gain in observational studies, however, increasingly it is becoming apparent that is not the case in long term studies.’

This study will be presented at the European Congress on Obesity (ECO 2024) in Venice, Italy, on 12-15 May 2024.

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