Most research on the utility of low-calorie sweeteners in weight management have looked at the effects of aspartame, as it was the first widely used no-calorie sweetener available to study. Results of this research show that low-calorie sweeteners can be useful in weight management strategies. Below is a list of important clinical studies, evaluating the effects of different low-calorie sweeteners on body weight and other related outcomes. Not surprisingly, FDA-permitted low- and no-calorie sugar substitutes do not cause weight gain. This finding is well-supported by long-term studies in laboratory species. The lack of ability of sucralose to increase body weight is also found when daily intakes are much greater than what could be expected in human use. The findings are not surprising. Most FDA-permitted low-calorie sweeteners, including sucralose, contain zero or negligible calories.
Rodearmel SJ, Wyatt HR, Stroebele N, et al. Small changes in dietary sugar and physical activity as an approach to preventing excessive weight gain: the America on the Move® family study. Pediatrics. 2007;120(4):869-879.
In the discussion of the study design, the authors note: "The intent of this study was to evaluate whether small changes in diet and physical activity, as promoted by the America on the Move® initiative, could prevent excessive weight gain in overweight children." They conclude that, "The small-changes approach advocated by America on the Move® could be useful for addressing childhood obesity by preventing excess weight gain in families."
Tate DF, Turner-McGrievy G, Lyons E, et al. Replacing caloric beverages with water or diet beverages for weight loss in adults: main results of the Choose Healthy Options Consciously Everyday (CHOICE) randomized clinical trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2012; 95(3):555-563. Epub 2012 Feb 1.
Study abstract: "Replacement of caloric beverages with noncaloric beverages may be a simple strategy for promoting modest weight reduction; however, the effectiveness of this strategy is not known. We compared the replacement of caloric beverages with water or diet beverages (DBs) as a method of weight loss over 6 mo in adults and attention controls (ACs). Overweight and obese adults [n = 318; BMI (in kg/m(2)): 36.3 ± 5.9; 84% female; age (mean ± SD): 42 ± 10.7 y; 54% black] substituted noncaloric beverages (water or DBs) for caloric beverages (≥200 kcal/d) or made dietary changes of their choosing (AC) for 6 mo. In an intent-to-treat analysis, a significant reduction in weight and waist circumference and an improvement in systolic blood pressure were observed from 0 to 6 mo. Mean (±SEM) weight losses at 6 mo were -2.5 ± 0.45% in the DB group, -2.03 ± 0.40% in the Water group, and -1.76 ± 0.35% in the AC group; there were no significant differences between groups. The chance of achieving a 5% weight loss at 6 mo was greater in the DB group than in the AC group (OR: 2.29; 95% CI: 1.05, 5.01; P = 0.04). A significant reduction in fasting glucose at 6 mo (P = 0.019) and improved hydration at 3 (P = 0.0017) and 6 (P = 0.049) mo was observed in the Water group relative to the AC group. In a combined analysis, participants assigned to beverage replacement were 2 times as likely to have achieved a 5% weight loss (OR: 2.07; 95% CI: 1.02, 4.22; P = 0.04) than were the AC participants. Replacement of caloric beverages with noncaloric beverages as a weight-loss strategy resulted in average weight losses of 2% to 2.5%. This strategy could have public health significance and is a simple, straightforward message. This trial was registered at clinicaltrials.gov as NCT01017783."
De la Hunty A, Gibson S, Ashwell M. A review of the effectiveness of aspartame in helping with weight control. Nutr Bull. 2006;31(2):115-128.
De la Hunty et al. conducted a meta-analysis of numerous studies investigating weight management with aspartame used as a means to control calorie intake from sugar. Excerpt from the paper: "This report reviews the evidence for the effect of aspartame on weight loss, weight maintenance and energy intakes in adults and addresses the question of how much energy is compensated for and whether the use of aspartame-sweetened foods and drinks is an effective way to lose weight...The meta-analyses [conducted] demonstrate that using foods and drinks sweetened with aspartame instead of sucrose results in a significant reduction in both energy intakes and bodyweight."
Rolls BJ. Effects of intense sweeteners on hunger, food intake, and body weight: a review. Am J Clin Nutr. 1991;53(4):872-878.
From the study abstract: "Aspartame has not been found to increase food intake; indeed, both short-term and long-term studies have shown that consumption of aspartame-sweetened foods or drinks is associated with either no change or reduction in food intake." Preliminary clinical trials suggest that aspartame may be a useful aid in a complete diet and exercise program or in weight maintenance. Intense low-calorie sweeteners have never been found to cause weight gain in humans.
Mattes RD, Popkin BM. Nonnutritive sweetener consumption in humans: effects on appetite and food intake and their putative mechanisms. Am J Clin Nutr.
Mattes and Popkin reported their findings following a review of available literature on low-calorie sweetener use and utility in weight management strategies. Their review describes recent trends in the use of non-nutritive sweeteners and current knowledge of their effects on short-term appetite and food intake as well as longer-term energy balance and body weight. The authors report that the evidence suggests that, when non-nutritive sweeteners are used as substitutes for higher energy yielding sweeteners, they have the potential to aid in weight management. They also report that, with respect to energy intake, there is no substantive evidence that inherent liking for sweetness or non-nutritive sweetener– activation of reward systems is problematic.
*America On the Move® is a study funded by McNeil Nutritionals, LLC and a grant from the National Institutes of Health.
America On the Move® is a national initiative promoting people to lead a healthy lifestyle. America On the Move® is a trademark of America On the Move Foundation, Inc.
The third-party trademarks used herein are trademarks of their respective owners
Read answers to commonly asked questions about SPLENDA® Sweetener Products, usage, effect of sucralose on blood glucose levels, and comparison with other sweeteners.