From our first ever candy as a child, many of us have a strong addictive-like affinity to sweetness. [1]

Sugar is usually the main ingredient that comes to mind when we discuss sweetness and can be found in a large majority of the foods we eat today. In fact, sugar-sweetened beverage consumption has risen by almost 40 gallons per person from 1950-2000. Suprisingly, the rise in sugar has also correlated with a rise in weight gain and obesity levels [2].

So, the question became how do we enjoy the sweetness and curb our cravings without the sugar and risk of obesity? The answer was artificial sweeteners; all the sweetness, none of the calories.

While this sounds great in theory, artificial sweeteners have been heavily criticized for causing cancer and other health issues. However, the evidence is certainly mixed, with no significant data to support this claim and with other more supportive research even showing that artificial sweeteners may actually improve body composition or aid in weight loss.

If you want a FINAL answer, then this article aims to take a scientific overview, analyzing the claims and providing you with the unbiased facts.

 

What are Artificial Sweeteners?

Artificial sweeteners are synthetic sugar substitutes that are far sweeter than regular sugar. This allows them to be used at a much lower dose or amount but still provide the sweetness we all love.

They are most commonly used in foods and beverages, labeled as “sugar free” or “diet”, to mimic the sweetness of regular sugar but with virtually no calories. [1]

 

Popular Artificial Sweeteners

While many artificial sweeteners exist there are five extensively researched and FDA approved sweeteners:

  • Saccharin (Sweet N’ Low)
  • Aspartame (Equal)
  • Neotame (Nutrasweet)
  • Sucralose (Splenda)
  • Acesulfame-K
  • Stevia
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