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HealthlineStevia and Other Non-Sugar Sweeteners May Not Increase Appetite Levels, Study Finds

Non-Sugar Sweeteners Show No Increase in Appetite, Offering Insights into Alternative Dietary Choices

A recent study conducted by the SWEET consortium investigates the effects of non-sugar sweeteners on appetite, blood sugar, and insulin levels. This study stands out due to its controlled, systematic approach involving solid food consumption over a 70-day period, contrasting with previous studies that predominantly focused on beverages. The findings provide valuable data for healthcare professionals considering dietary recommendations for patients managing blood sugar and insulin levels.

Key Points:

  • Study Design: Conducted by the SWEET consortium, the study involved 53 healthy adults with BMI between 25–35, assessing the impact of non-sugar sweeteners on appetite and metabolic responses.
  • Sweeteners Used: Participants consumed cookies sweetened with either sucrose, stevia, or neotame over multiple cycles, with periodic assessments of appetite and metabolic markers.
  • Appetite Impact: No significant differences were found in appetite levels between sucrose and non-sugar sweeteners, challenging prior assumptions about sweeteners’ effects on hunger.
  • Blood Sugar and Insulin Response: Sweeteners, particularly stevia, resulted in a lower insulin response and blood sugar levels post-consumption compared to sucrose.
  • Satiety Hormones: Measurements of ghrelin, GLP-1, and pancreatic polypeptide indicated no significant differences in satiety-related hormonal responses among the different sweeteners.
  • Study Scope and Limitations: The study’s controlled, gold-standard design highlights its reliability, though its small sample size suggests that further research is necessary.
  • Public Health Implications: The results support the potential for non-sugar sweeteners to aid in managing blood sugar and insulin levels, important factors in metabolic disease prevention.
  • WHO Guidelines: Despite these findings, the World Health Organization advises caution in using non-sugar sweeteners for weight control or disease risk reduction, reflecting ongoing debate in the nutrition community.
  • Dietary Individuality: The variability in individual metabolic responses to sweeteners underscores the need for personalized dietary recommendations.

“The use of a nonnutritive sweetener is only a very small piece of an overall dietary pattern and physical activity routine. Each person choosing to use a food product that contains a nonnutritive sweetener versus traditional sources of sugar needs to assess whether it meets their health goals, whether weight-focused or aiming for better blood glucose control.”
– Julie Stefanski MEd, RDN, LDN, FAND, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics

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