Living well Your Health & Wellness

Are sugar substitutes bad for you?

Written by Diane Archer

The data is clear that too much sugar is not good for your health. But, what about sugar substitutes, artificial sweeteners like Splenda, Sweet ‘N Low and Equal? A new meta-study  published in the BMJ finds that there is no evidence that sugar substitutes are bad for you. But, based on the quality of the evidence, the researchers could not rule out the harms of sugar substitutes.

Researchers looked at 56 controlled and non-controlled clinical trials as well as observational studies to see whether sugar substitutes affected health outcomes for otherwise healthy or overweight adults and children. In total, 13,941 people were studied. They found that sugar substitutes had no meaningful health benefits.

The researchers did not find evidence that sugar substitutes affected people’s eating behaviors. Sugar substitutes also did not appear to cause cancer or heart disease or kidney disease. And, sugar substitutes did not seem to affect people’s moods or memory.

The researchers looked at a variety of sugar substitutes. They saw no clear differences among sugar substitutes, including aspartame, stevia, or some combination of sweeteners.

This all said, the researchers reported that most studies did not have enough participants, did not report type and dose of sweetener, or did not cover a long enough period of time, to allow for reliable findings as to the harms of sugar substitutes.

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