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The Impact of Non-Nutritive Sweeteners on Health

Many people think that artificial or non-nutritive sweeteners increase the risk of microbiome damage, obesity, and cancer. In this overview, Cliff looks at the evidence for the impact of sweeteners on health.

Key Findings:

  • While there are some associations drawn from observational data between NNS and overweight/obesity, these are not seen in randomised controlled trials
  • It is likely that observational associations between NNS and obesity are due to correlation not causation
  • Non-nutritive sweeteners are not meaningfully associated with negative health outcomes in humans
  • Further research should explore any potential effects on the human microbiome more thoroughly
  • Overall, the moderate use of NNS is unlikely to be of concern for human health outcomes

The topic of artificial, or more commonly called ‘non-nutritive sweeteners’ (as many common sweeteners such as stevia leaf are ‘natural’), and health is a controversial one. Overall, there is no conclusive proof that non-nutritive sweeteners are beneficial to weight management or blood sugar control, but similarly, there is no conclusive evidence that they increase the risk for cancer, diabetes, obesity, or increase habituation to ‘sweetness’,1 claims that are commonly made in popular media.


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