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Aspartame and artificial sweeteners – helping or hindering weight loss?

by Katie Patrick | Analysis

13 February 2019

54 comments 54 comments

A selection of soft drinks.

With our appetite for low or zero sugar products increasing, artificial sweeteners are big business.

Food or drinks containing artificial sweeteners are often marketed as a healthier option, and it’s understandable why. Because artificial sweeteners are significantly sweeter than sugar, they can be used in very small amounts and contribute little to no calories. There are lots of types, but the most well researched are aspartame and saccharin.

A possible link between artificial sweeteners and cancer has been reported in the media. But despite lots of research in this area, there’s no convincing evidence that sweeteners in our food and drink increase the risk of cancer.

While there’s nothing to worry about from a cancer perspective, questions still remain about whether or not artificial sweeteners can help us lose weight. And as being overweight or obese increases the risk of 13 types of cancer, knowing whether they help is important.

But getting a solid answer to this question is tricky. Diet is notoriously difficult to study and so far, researchers have reached different conclusions. Overall, it looks like artificial sweeteners like aspartame aren’t causing harm, but they’re not having the big weight loss benefits that some people expected either.

Can we have our cake and eat it too?

If sweeteners are replacing a high calorie alternative, it seems logical that by reducing calories they should help with weight loss.

But whether this is the case is tricky to prove. It’s difficult to study the long-term impact of a specific part of our diet for lots of reasons. For one, measuring exactly how much people consume is hard. And there are lots of other things that could explain any differences – like other elements of a person’s diet or how much they exercise – so we need large studies that take these things in to account.

Most studies have looked at artificially sweetened drinks rather than sweeteners in foods, and the results are mixed. For this reason, the European Food Safety Authority won’t allow products containing artificial sweeteners to carry a weight loss health claim.

A 2016 review found that people using artificial sweeteners had both a lower calorie intake and reduced body weight. But these results should be treated with a healthy dose of scepticism as the study was conducted and funded by the International Life Sciences Institute, whose members include companies such as Coca-Cola, Red Bull and Pepsi. Each of these companies has a vested interested in the artificial sweetener business.

The results also don’t fully tally up with a more recent, independent analysis of 56 studies. This analysis found very little evidence to suggest low energy artificial or natural sweeteners, like stevia, are helping lots of people to lose weight.

But when 3 studies were picked out that only included overweight or obese adults, artificial sweeteners did provide a small benefit to weight loss. While positive for this group of people, the researchers say that larger and longer-term studies are needed to confirm this.

If not weight loss, then what about weight gain?

Surprisingly, some research has found that sweeteners might make us gain weight. But the latest review didn’t agree with this.

This raises an important question: if products containing artificial sweeteners contain less calories, why doesn’t the evidence show they are helping us to lose weight?

One explanation is something called ‘reverse causality’ – whereby people who are already overweight or obese are more likely to be choosing food or drinks with sweeteners to help with weight loss. This makes it difficult to say whether the artificial sweeteners or weight gain came first, or how one may affect the other.

But some researchers think there might be more going on, including effects on our gut health, appetite and desire for sweet foods.

But these are unproven theories.

Are sweeteners actually making us hungrier?

Throughout the day, our gut sends messages to our brain in the form of hormones. These hormones tell our brain when we are hungry or full. There has been some suggestion that sweeteners could interfere with these messages, and therefore make us eat more rather than less.

‘’When we eat food containing sugar, the gut produces more of the hormone that tells our brain we are full, and less of the hormone that tells our brain we are hungry. Currently, the evidence suggests that sweeteners don’t prompt the release of either of these gut hormones in humans,’ says Dr Ana Pinto, a nutrition researcher from King’s College London (KCL).

Does a diet or low-calorie option at lunch equal more at dinner?

If sweeteners aren’t affecting our gut, is there a psychological effect?

Some research has proposed a reward effect, in which we feel we have some ‘calories to spare’ if we have replaced a high calorie product with a diet alternative.

Daphne Katsikioti, who also studies nutrition at KCL, explains: “‘Some researchers have suggested that when we eat or drink products containing artificial sweeteners, we later compensate for the ‘missing’ energy by eating more.”

But she adds that there’s good evidence to suggest that this doesn’t happen and that artificial sweeteners can be helpful to reduce calories.

Finally, some people have suggested that the intense sweetness that comes from sweeteners could lead to a particularly sweet tooth in the long term. The latest review found very little evidence of this, so more research is needed to pin down if this a possible side effect of artificial sweeteners.

To sweeten or not to sweeten?

Despite the theories, the European Food Safety Authority have ruled that artificial sweeteners in food and drink pose no threat to our health if consumed within daily allowances. For aspartame, this is equivalent to 15 cans of diet coke. That’s a stark contrast to what we know about the harms of having too much sugar.

But products containing sweeteners often don’t offer much nutritional benefit. And the lack of convincing evidence that they can help with weight loss shouldn’t be overlooked.

The take-home message is artificially sweetened drinks aren’t a silver bullet for weight loss. But if you drink a lot of sugary drinks and think a diet version might help you cut down on sugar, that’s a good step and is very unlikely to do you any harm.

Katie Patrick is a health information officer at Cancer Research UK 


    Comments

  • Sherie Sanders, MA
    9 July 2019

    You are deliberately obscuring the risks of artificial sweeteners and scapegoating obesity. If you were real scientists, instead of representing corporate interests, you would know that obesity is associated with cancer, it has NOT been proven to cause it. It may very well be that all the artificial sweeteners is the true culprit, as fatter people are pressured into dieting more often. But, you care more about spin than science.

  • James
    21 May 2019

    An actually well written article about aspartame, very nice.

    I agree with everything written. There’s no research to definitively say that aspartame is bad for us in any way, and if anything, it’s helpful when it comes to weight loss.

    But as you say, not all research can confirm it because too many obese individuals view low calorie products as silver bullets, when in reality they’re just one option of assisting weight management. So unless the rest of the diet and lifestyle is on point, it won’t do anything to help. Might even make it worse as obese people are likely to eat even more, thinking that by using a low calorie drink, they can allow themselves more of other stuff.

    Personally I use artificial sweeteners with tea and coffee, as well as drink diet soda to make sure all liquids I consume are zero calorie, meaning I only need to worry about actual food when it comes to dieting.

  • Alison
    9 May 2019

    My greatest concern is the fact that I am allergic to most artificial sweeteners & even the low cal “natural” alternatives give me migraines. Because they are deemed “safe” manufacturers are not required to highlight their use in ingredients & often hide them using alternative names or even an E number. Worst of all, they won’t accept any claim of allergy as genuine, but when a doctor witnessed the reaction first hand (to a drink that did not list the sweetener on the label – but was later revealed to contain sweeteners) there was no doubt in their mind.
    Also, with the increase in use of sweeteners our right to choose has been taken away. I have several friends (none of which are overweight & one is a dental nurse) that don’t WANT to have artificial sweeteners, but our choices are being reduced. There are music venues & restaurants that don’t even sell the full sugar drinks, only diet. And despite specifically ordering FULL FAT COKE, I’ve been given the sugar free variety numerous times – ruining my night/meal out.

  • Rach
    8 May 2019

    Thank you for a concise and unbiased review.

  • Matt
    11 April 2019

    I love all the people on here saying they “stay away from anything artificial”.
    They want to keep things 100% natural, like back 200 years ago, when people lived to an average ripe ole age of 32……. hahahahaha.

  • Katie Roberts
    2 April 2019

    Hi Maureen,

    Thanks for your question. Cancer Research UK works closely with members of the Scottish Parliament to make sure that cancer is at the top of the health agenda https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-us/we-develop-policy/we-work-with-government/scotland. We’ve most recently been doing this as part of our campaign to tackle obesity in Scotland https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/get-involved/campaign-for-us/scale-down-cancer.
    We also provide updates on all devolved nations via our online news channels, including covering when new treatments are made available on the NHS in Scotland https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-us/cancer-news/news-report/2019-02-13-double-nhs-decision-for-car-t-cell-immunotherapy-in-scotland.

    Best wishes,

    Katie Roberts, Cancer Research UK

  • Maureen Gibb
    29 March 2019

    Never much about NHS Scotland. Why? Contributed by direct debit for over 20 years and would like to know if Scotland is on your radar.

  • Tracy Eaton
    24 March 2019

    Thankyou this has answered several questions I had as people saying to me since my cancer stop all sugar it gives you cancer but so does aspartame so stop and look at ingredients. Don’t have it . It becomes confusing and scaremongering. I feel now I can still with too much worry still have a single can of diet coke aday. Moderation the key

  • John black
    14 March 2019

    My dad needs help to lose weight

  • Steve
    18 February 2019

    This article doesnt really add value, just makes things more confusing. The only reassuring part is breaking the link between sweetners and cancer.

  • Jill
    18 February 2019

    For me anything artificial is dangerous. I try and steer well away.
    Better to have as less as possible of anything artificial in your diet.

  • Ivy Pound
    18 February 2019

    I’m a retired Slimming World consultant and members who switched to sweeteners did lose weight

  • Cay Thorn
    18 February 2019

    Very confusing

  • Isobel Edgar
    18 February 2019

    What about people who are boarding on diabetic and have replaced sugar in tea coffee and on cereal with a sweetener? Is this healthier? Also is it safe for my 10 year old to have diet lemonade he prefers it to the sugared ones. He only has it at the weekends as a treat. But with a family history of diabetes I am very cautious about giving him too much sugar.
    Mrs Edgar

  • Bilikisu Savage
    17 February 2019

    Thank you for the comprehensive educative information.

  • Ley Holloway
    17 February 2019

    I’ve never liked the idea of artificial anything, Aspartame particularly has a very unpleasant aftertaste so i won’t drink anything containing it, recently gave up on J20 since it’s artificial sweetener content has risen. If they help people cut down on their sugar intake then I suppose they’re a good thing. Not for me though.

  • Olivia
    17 February 2019

    I think anything artificial is daft over something that is natural!
    If you must sweeten???! ; Understand sugar is a drug and not necessary like salt. Use honey (local if you can, less likely to develop allergy).

  • Matthew Inge
    17 February 2019

    The covet addition of aspartame to food and drink shouldnt be allowed to continue. If a food stuff which previously didn’t contain aspartame now does it should be splashed across the packaging. My wife is allergic to aspartame and sneaking it into food without advertising is dangerous.
    This also removes consumer choice.

  • Linda Rostron
    17 February 2019

    I know that one day I am going to die from this body and return to spirit. While I’m in this body I want to enjoy life including delicious food and drink. I am not keen on artificial sweeteners, they have a strange taste/aftertaste. I much prefer a touch of honey, Manuka when I can afford it.

  • Jill Zarfati
    17 February 2019

    I am almost 76 and for at least 55 years I have not put sugar or any sweetener in my coffee which I drink without any kind of milk.
    I occasionally eat cakes and biscuits, but prefer more savoury flavours.
    So I can’t help with your question

  • Lin
    17 February 2019

    SAY NO TO ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS
    cut the natural sugars in drinks and food people will get used to having less sugar in cakes and sweets

  • Stella
    17 February 2019

    Very comprehensive article. I agree with other comments especially the need for fully independent research, as any funded by companies with a vested interest is bound to come out in favour of their product.

  • Joan sowton
    17 February 2019

    My concern is with vascular dementia.there have been good studies that prove the clogging of these in the brain could be added to by using artificial sweeteners.I have been diagnose in the last two weeks.so this is a huge concern to me.I now have to have blood thinning medication. I like many people love my. Coffee and tea and drink about. 10 cups a day .sweetened with two aspartsmine based pills.I use artificial sweetener in cooking and custards .although I Dont have many fizzy drinks.but my first choice that I keep in my cupboard is Zero coke..I have been using these for over 40 years..and as I now are looking to help myself not lose anymore brain cells .when I saw this latest health scare. I truly thought this is me. And I threw everyone of the sweeteners in the bin.I am going to try the fruit based ones .I can’t say they are very nice .so maybe I can do without. But I will be using sugar in my cakes and custard and only having those as a treat at weekends. I am mortified a better study by our governments did not take place before allowing these poisons to be put into everyday food and drinks. I worry for our children .who we give this too to help with tooth decay and obesity that we are leading them into a different nightmare .im very concerned that no one can give me a reassurance from a reputable source.other than the big conglomerants who feed us with this stuff. I urge caution when using these sweeteners.

  • JaneB
    17 February 2019

    From the NHS site: “findings suggest artificial sweeteners “may have directly contributed to enhancing the exact epidemic [obesity and diabetes] that they themselves were intended to fight”.” … and they taste disgusting too …
    SAY NO TO ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS

  • Lynnette Roberts
    17 February 2019

    I found this article very interesting. I’ve always had concerns that artificial sweeteners do little to address what has become known as “Our sweet tooth”. As you say research and trials into diets and the huge industry that has grown around it are often misleading due in part to who has financed the study. Time to get of my high horse 😉

  • Mrs R Pegler
    17 February 2019

    This is one of the most sensible, comprehensive articles on health scare products that I have ever read. It gives all viewpoints and is very informative. If only every study and report could be as helpful as this one. Thank you.

  • Brian woulds
    17 February 2019

    Sweetners certainly do help with weight loss and I have been using them for years and also diet coke and the weight I’ve lost has certainly helped me not put ot back on

  • Judith Margaret Hayes
    16 February 2019

    More education on healthy diet choices is needed. I have seen people – especially teenagers – buying carb and sugar filled snacks plus a sugar-free drink. I’m sure they think that the low calorie drink will stop them putting on weight! So people need to understand that sugar-free drinks as part of a healthy diet is much better, plus plenty of exercise and at least 5-a-day veg & fruit.

  • Linda
    16 February 2019

    All I know is since I’ve developed ibs I’ve to avoid sugar free as sweeteners have an awful affect on my system

  • Victoria Simpson
    16 February 2019

    I firmly believe that the artificial ingredients regardless of what they are, if made in a factory more than 1 ingredient are bad for us! Naturally occurring, grown, and seasonal should be pushed and pushed through schools and for it to be cheaper to buy fresh meat, fish fruit and veg than ready made processed rubbish! I also think we need to look at more responsibly resources of meat and fish, and portion sizes of meat and fish!

  • Jill Stroud
    16 February 2019

    Can’t agree that Aspartame can do no harm; believe in USA it is banned!
    Better to have natural unrefined sugar and control intake. There are far too many artificial sweeteners, should stick to natural sweeteners and be more disciplined on consumption of sugary drinks

  • Don
    16 February 2019

    I have used Artificial sweeteners & sugar free soft drinks for about 25 years no problems, as for weight loss just cut down on food intake & excercise a little every day thats been my only change and have lost 2st in 11 month.

  • Peter
    16 February 2019

    Artificial sweeteners are bad for health, there is a proven link to MS and Fibromyalgia.

    Big corporations only use them to maximise profits using cheap and nasty altered ingredients.

    Because of the sugar tax, now many other companies are adopting this awful practice and litterally poisoning people with chemically altered sugars.

    The massive health implications pertaining to cancer may not yet be known. Just because you did not find something now, it does not mean you won’t find a link many years later after a great deal of damage has been done to health.

    Also, artificial sugars interfere with the body’s ability to break down fats. Therefore, drinks with artificial sweeteners actually cause weight gain in all the wrong places in the body as the fats that can’t be processed have to be stored somewhere.

  • Eva Wye
    16 February 2019

    I find it quite shocking that Cancer Research UK is saying that diet coke and aspartame is not unhealthy. Yes, diet is very difficult to research, that is why I find this findings a bit biased. Are perhaps the artificial sweeteners companies funding the research? It is well known that cancer can feed on sugar. It also makes common sense that sugar and artificial sweeteners are BAD for our health. The same as pesticides in our food and harmful toxic ingredients in our beauty products.

  • Deborah Douglas
    16 February 2019

    I certainly don’t shy away from anything artificial, have just made a fresh raspberry, mascarpone and chocolate cheesecake, but the base was packet of Green’s cheesecake mix. Sorry if you think I was having a go, was just saying everything in moderation is probably fine. I just don’t like taste of these sweeteners but fine for people who do.

  • Audrey
    16 February 2019

    My husband and I have used sweeteners in tea and coffee for most of our lives (we are both 84). Neither of us is obese. I hate to think how many spoonfuls of sugar we would be having a day if we didn’t use sweeteners!

  • Tom
    16 February 2019

    Fascinating! I think health-conscious folk tend to shy away from anything “artificial”… Your comments make me less afraid of consuming these products.

  • Deborah Douglas
    16 February 2019

    I think moderation/variation is the key to good health and eating mainly unprocessed foods if possible and drinking plenty of water. I am not a fan of artificial sweeteners, but recognise they may have a place for some people.

  • Susan Perryman
    16 February 2019

    The aspartame upsets my bladder.

  • Frances
    16 February 2019

    I read somewhere that aspatume is bad for
    your bones I have osteoarthritis so try to control my weight but avoid anything with aspatume in not easy but it can be done.

  • Rosanne Eden
    16 February 2019

    I am most surprised that you even mention diet coke, as this product is often used to clean kettles, engine parts and coins. As a four time victim of cancer, now clear, I would not use any type of artificial sweetener or chemical product in my body. I think all products that use any type of artificial agent or chemical should have this fact boldly displayed on the front of the packaging. I do not use sugar either.

  • Elaine
    16 February 2019

    I find that artificial sweeteners can help people lose weight as long as they are taken in moderation. I have had to change to sweeteners as I now have type 2 diabetes. I have lost nearly 2 stone but this down to a combination of reducing my portion size, eating less carbohydrates & using sweeteners . I feel healthier for it, I don’t feel as hungry as a result of using them but you have to exercise as well if you want to lose weight as just taking sweeteners do it.

  • Dee
    16 February 2019

    There’s no place in food for artificial sweeteners

  • Douglas Blow
    16 February 2019

    Just cut down on sugar intake, excercise more.

  • Adrianna
    15 February 2019

    I stop drinking regular coke and switched to come zero. Drink the same amount and did loose weight. It doesn’t make me hungry at all. Funny thing that my sister is exactly opposite. She feels more hungry after drinking something with sweeteners.

  • Mary
    15 February 2019

    the taste of many artificial sweeteners is so horrible that I don’t buy items containing them.
    Many drinks say ”no added sugar, no artificial colours or flavourings ” but neglect to say that they contain artificial sweeteners

  • Lloyd Halasz
    15 February 2019

    I hate using sweetener because it gives me a very dodgy stomach and I find I have dreadful out of control wind that goes down.

  • Maureen Young
    15 February 2019

    Interesting article. I was trying to lose weight a while ago and changed to artificial sweeteners. When I had a blood test I was informed that I was borderline diabetic. The only change in my diet was the artificial sweeteners. I stopped using them and my next blood test was normal. I would never use them again.

  • Roz
    15 February 2019

    I don’t like artificially seeetened drinks, yogurts etc. I find they have an aftertaste in my mouth. Prefer to eat more natural food but just eat less. My cats enjoy licking the yogurt pot when I have finished, but don’t like Mullerlight yogurts that my husband eats.

  • Kevin Jones
    15 February 2019

    Informative article – thank you.

  • Michael
    15 February 2019

    I find different sweeteners have different effect with me. Canderal is the worst with hunger, thirst and weight gain.

  • Lorraine Holmes
    15 February 2019

    I have heard that sweeteners make you more hungry and aspartame isn’t good for you anything artificial isn’t good for you? I have stopped putting sugar in my tea and coffee, I don’t use artificial sweeteners

  • Mahima
    15 February 2019

    Thank you so much for sharing recipes.Great blog!!!

  • Max
    13 February 2019

    This info is really very good .Every one must know about this https://za.gl/IJTta

    Comments

  • Sherie Sanders, MA
    9 July 2019

    You are deliberately obscuring the risks of artificial sweeteners and scapegoating obesity. If you were real scientists, instead of representing corporate interests, you would know that obesity is associated with cancer, it has NOT been proven to cause it. It may very well be that all the artificial sweeteners is the true culprit, as fatter people are pressured into dieting more often. But, you care more about spin than science.

  • James
    21 May 2019

    An actually well written article about aspartame, very nice.

    I agree with everything written. There’s no research to definitively say that aspartame is bad for us in any way, and if anything, it’s helpful when it comes to weight loss.

    But as you say, not all research can confirm it because too many obese individuals view low calorie products as silver bullets, when in reality they’re just one option of assisting weight management. So unless the rest of the diet and lifestyle is on point, it won’t do anything to help. Might even make it worse as obese people are likely to eat even more, thinking that by using a low calorie drink, they can allow themselves more of other stuff.

    Personally I use artificial sweeteners with tea and coffee, as well as drink diet soda to make sure all liquids I consume are zero calorie, meaning I only need to worry about actual food when it comes to dieting.

  • Alison
    9 May 2019

    My greatest concern is the fact that I am allergic to most artificial sweeteners & even the low cal “natural” alternatives give me migraines. Because they are deemed “safe” manufacturers are not required to highlight their use in ingredients & often hide them using alternative names or even an E number. Worst of all, they won’t accept any claim of allergy as genuine, but when a doctor witnessed the reaction first hand (to a drink that did not list the sweetener on the label – but was later revealed to contain sweeteners) there was no doubt in their mind.
    Also, with the increase in use of sweeteners our right to choose has been taken away. I have several friends (none of which are overweight & one is a dental nurse) that don’t WANT to have artificial sweeteners, but our choices are being reduced. There are music venues & restaurants that don’t even sell the full sugar drinks, only diet. And despite specifically ordering FULL FAT COKE, I’ve been given the sugar free variety numerous times – ruining my night/meal out.

  • Rach
    8 May 2019

    Thank you for a concise and unbiased review.

  • Matt
    11 April 2019

    I love all the people on here saying they “stay away from anything artificial”.
    They want to keep things 100% natural, like back 200 years ago, when people lived to an average ripe ole age of 32……. hahahahaha.

  • Katie Roberts
    2 April 2019

    Hi Maureen,

    Thanks for your question. Cancer Research UK works closely with members of the Scottish Parliament to make sure that cancer is at the top of the health agenda https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-us/we-develop-policy/we-work-with-government/scotland. We’ve most recently been doing this as part of our campaign to tackle obesity in Scotland https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/get-involved/campaign-for-us/scale-down-cancer.
    We also provide updates on all devolved nations via our online news channels, including covering when new treatments are made available on the NHS in Scotland https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-us/cancer-news/news-report/2019-02-13-double-nhs-decision-for-car-t-cell-immunotherapy-in-scotland.

    Best wishes,

    Katie Roberts, Cancer Research UK

  • Maureen Gibb
    29 March 2019

    Never much about NHS Scotland. Why? Contributed by direct debit for over 20 years and would like to know if Scotland is on your radar.

  • Tracy Eaton
    24 March 2019

    Thankyou this has answered several questions I had as people saying to me since my cancer stop all sugar it gives you cancer but so does aspartame so stop and look at ingredients. Don’t have it . It becomes confusing and scaremongering. I feel now I can still with too much worry still have a single can of diet coke aday. Moderation the key

  • John black
    14 March 2019

    My dad needs help to lose weight

  • Steve
    18 February 2019

    This article doesnt really add value, just makes things more confusing. The only reassuring part is breaking the link between sweetners and cancer.

  • Jill
    18 February 2019

    For me anything artificial is dangerous. I try and steer well away.
    Better to have as less as possible of anything artificial in your diet.

  • Ivy Pound
    18 February 2019

    I’m a retired Slimming World consultant and members who switched to sweeteners did lose weight

  • Cay Thorn
    18 February 2019

    Very confusing

  • Isobel Edgar
    18 February 2019

    What about people who are boarding on diabetic and have replaced sugar in tea coffee and on cereal with a sweetener? Is this healthier? Also is it safe for my 10 year old to have diet lemonade he prefers it to the sugared ones. He only has it at the weekends as a treat. But with a family history of diabetes I am very cautious about giving him too much sugar.
    Mrs Edgar

  • Bilikisu Savage
    17 February 2019

    Thank you for the comprehensive educative information.

  • Ley Holloway
    17 February 2019

    I’ve never liked the idea of artificial anything, Aspartame particularly has a very unpleasant aftertaste so i won’t drink anything containing it, recently gave up on J20 since it’s artificial sweetener content has risen. If they help people cut down on their sugar intake then I suppose they’re a good thing. Not for me though.

  • Olivia
    17 February 2019

    I think anything artificial is daft over something that is natural!
    If you must sweeten???! ; Understand sugar is a drug and not necessary like salt. Use honey (local if you can, less likely to develop allergy).

  • Matthew Inge
    17 February 2019

    The covet addition of aspartame to food and drink shouldnt be allowed to continue. If a food stuff which previously didn’t contain aspartame now does it should be splashed across the packaging. My wife is allergic to aspartame and sneaking it into food without advertising is dangerous.
    This also removes consumer choice.

  • Linda Rostron
    17 February 2019

    I know that one day I am going to die from this body and return to spirit. While I’m in this body I want to enjoy life including delicious food and drink. I am not keen on artificial sweeteners, they have a strange taste/aftertaste. I much prefer a touch of honey, Manuka when I can afford it.

  • Jill Zarfati
    17 February 2019

    I am almost 76 and for at least 55 years I have not put sugar or any sweetener in my coffee which I drink without any kind of milk.
    I occasionally eat cakes and biscuits, but prefer more savoury flavours.
    So I can’t help with your question

  • Lin
    17 February 2019

    SAY NO TO ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS
    cut the natural sugars in drinks and food people will get used to having less sugar in cakes and sweets

  • Stella
    17 February 2019

    Very comprehensive article. I agree with other comments especially the need for fully independent research, as any funded by companies with a vested interest is bound to come out in favour of their product.

  • Joan sowton
    17 February 2019

    My concern is with vascular dementia.there have been good studies that prove the clogging of these in the brain could be added to by using artificial sweeteners.I have been diagnose in the last two weeks.so this is a huge concern to me.I now have to have blood thinning medication. I like many people love my. Coffee and tea and drink about. 10 cups a day .sweetened with two aspartsmine based pills.I use artificial sweetener in cooking and custards .although I Dont have many fizzy drinks.but my first choice that I keep in my cupboard is Zero coke..I have been using these for over 40 years..and as I now are looking to help myself not lose anymore brain cells .when I saw this latest health scare. I truly thought this is me. And I threw everyone of the sweeteners in the bin.I am going to try the fruit based ones .I can’t say they are very nice .so maybe I can do without. But I will be using sugar in my cakes and custard and only having those as a treat at weekends. I am mortified a better study by our governments did not take place before allowing these poisons to be put into everyday food and drinks. I worry for our children .who we give this too to help with tooth decay and obesity that we are leading them into a different nightmare .im very concerned that no one can give me a reassurance from a reputable source.other than the big conglomerants who feed us with this stuff. I urge caution when using these sweeteners.

  • JaneB
    17 February 2019

    From the NHS site: “findings suggest artificial sweeteners “may have directly contributed to enhancing the exact epidemic [obesity and diabetes] that they themselves were intended to fight”.” … and they taste disgusting too …
    SAY NO TO ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS

  • Lynnette Roberts
    17 February 2019

    I found this article very interesting. I’ve always had concerns that artificial sweeteners do little to address what has become known as “Our sweet tooth”. As you say research and trials into diets and the huge industry that has grown around it are often misleading due in part to who has financed the study. Time to get of my high horse 😉

  • Mrs R Pegler
    17 February 2019

    This is one of the most sensible, comprehensive articles on health scare products that I have ever read. It gives all viewpoints and is very informative. If only every study and report could be as helpful as this one. Thank you.

  • Brian woulds
    17 February 2019

    Sweetners certainly do help with weight loss and I have been using them for years and also diet coke and the weight I’ve lost has certainly helped me not put ot back on

  • Judith Margaret Hayes
    16 February 2019

    More education on healthy diet choices is needed. I have seen people – especially teenagers – buying carb and sugar filled snacks plus a sugar-free drink. I’m sure they think that the low calorie drink will stop them putting on weight! So people need to understand that sugar-free drinks as part of a healthy diet is much better, plus plenty of exercise and at least 5-a-day veg & fruit.

  • Linda
    16 February 2019

    All I know is since I’ve developed ibs I’ve to avoid sugar free as sweeteners have an awful affect on my system

  • Victoria Simpson
    16 February 2019

    I firmly believe that the artificial ingredients regardless of what they are, if made in a factory more than 1 ingredient are bad for us! Naturally occurring, grown, and seasonal should be pushed and pushed through schools and for it to be cheaper to buy fresh meat, fish fruit and veg than ready made processed rubbish! I also think we need to look at more responsibly resources of meat and fish, and portion sizes of meat and fish!

  • Jill Stroud
    16 February 2019

    Can’t agree that Aspartame can do no harm; believe in USA it is banned!
    Better to have natural unrefined sugar and control intake. There are far too many artificial sweeteners, should stick to natural sweeteners and be more disciplined on consumption of sugary drinks

  • Don
    16 February 2019

    I have used Artificial sweeteners & sugar free soft drinks for about 25 years no problems, as for weight loss just cut down on food intake & excercise a little every day thats been my only change and have lost 2st in 11 month.

  • Peter
    16 February 2019

    Artificial sweeteners are bad for health, there is a proven link to MS and Fibromyalgia.

    Big corporations only use them to maximise profits using cheap and nasty altered ingredients.

    Because of the sugar tax, now many other companies are adopting this awful practice and litterally poisoning people with chemically altered sugars.

    The massive health implications pertaining to cancer may not yet be known. Just because you did not find something now, it does not mean you won’t find a link many years later after a great deal of damage has been done to health.

    Also, artificial sugars interfere with the body’s ability to break down fats. Therefore, drinks with artificial sweeteners actually cause weight gain in all the wrong places in the body as the fats that can’t be processed have to be stored somewhere.

  • Eva Wye
    16 February 2019

    I find it quite shocking that Cancer Research UK is saying that diet coke and aspartame is not unhealthy. Yes, diet is very difficult to research, that is why I find this findings a bit biased. Are perhaps the artificial sweeteners companies funding the research? It is well known that cancer can feed on sugar. It also makes common sense that sugar and artificial sweeteners are BAD for our health. The same as pesticides in our food and harmful toxic ingredients in our beauty products.

  • Deborah Douglas
    16 February 2019

    I certainly don’t shy away from anything artificial, have just made a fresh raspberry, mascarpone and chocolate cheesecake, but the base was packet of Green’s cheesecake mix. Sorry if you think I was having a go, was just saying everything in moderation is probably fine. I just don’t like taste of these sweeteners but fine for people who do.

  • Audrey
    16 February 2019

    My husband and I have used sweeteners in tea and coffee for most of our lives (we are both 84). Neither of us is obese. I hate to think how many spoonfuls of sugar we would be having a day if we didn’t use sweeteners!

  • Tom
    16 February 2019

    Fascinating! I think health-conscious folk tend to shy away from anything “artificial”… Your comments make me less afraid of consuming these products.

  • Deborah Douglas
    16 February 2019

    I think moderation/variation is the key to good health and eating mainly unprocessed foods if possible and drinking plenty of water. I am not a fan of artificial sweeteners, but recognise they may have a place for some people.

  • Susan Perryman
    16 February 2019

    The aspartame upsets my bladder.

  • Frances
    16 February 2019

    I read somewhere that aspatume is bad for
    your bones I have osteoarthritis so try to control my weight but avoid anything with aspatume in not easy but it can be done.

  • Rosanne Eden
    16 February 2019

    I am most surprised that you even mention diet coke, as this product is often used to clean kettles, engine parts and coins. As a four time victim of cancer, now clear, I would not use any type of artificial sweetener or chemical product in my body. I think all products that use any type of artificial agent or chemical should have this fact boldly displayed on the front of the packaging. I do not use sugar either.

  • Elaine
    16 February 2019

    I find that artificial sweeteners can help people lose weight as long as they are taken in moderation. I have had to change to sweeteners as I now have type 2 diabetes. I have lost nearly 2 stone but this down to a combination of reducing my portion size, eating less carbohydrates & using sweeteners . I feel healthier for it, I don’t feel as hungry as a result of using them but you have to exercise as well if you want to lose weight as just taking sweeteners do it.

  • Dee
    16 February 2019

    There’s no place in food for artificial sweeteners

  • Douglas Blow
    16 February 2019

    Just cut down on sugar intake, excercise more.

  • Adrianna
    15 February 2019

    I stop drinking regular coke and switched to come zero. Drink the same amount and did loose weight. It doesn’t make me hungry at all. Funny thing that my sister is exactly opposite. She feels more hungry after drinking something with sweeteners.

  • Mary
    15 February 2019

    the taste of many artificial sweeteners is so horrible that I don’t buy items containing them.
    Many drinks say ”no added sugar, no artificial colours or flavourings ” but neglect to say that they contain artificial sweeteners

  • Lloyd Halasz
    15 February 2019

    I hate using sweetener because it gives me a very dodgy stomach and I find I have dreadful out of control wind that goes down.

  • Maureen Young
    15 February 2019

    Interesting article. I was trying to lose weight a while ago and changed to artificial sweeteners. When I had a blood test I was informed that I was borderline diabetic. The only change in my diet was the artificial sweeteners. I stopped using them and my next blood test was normal. I would never use them again.

  • Roz
    15 February 2019

    I don’t like artificially seeetened drinks, yogurts etc. I find they have an aftertaste in my mouth. Prefer to eat more natural food but just eat less. My cats enjoy licking the yogurt pot when I have finished, but don’t like Mullerlight yogurts that my husband eats.

  • Kevin Jones
    15 February 2019

    Informative article – thank you.

  • Michael
    15 February 2019

    I find different sweeteners have different effect with me. Canderal is the worst with hunger, thirst and weight gain.

  • Lorraine Holmes
    15 February 2019

    I have heard that sweeteners make you more hungry and aspartame isn’t good for you anything artificial isn’t good for you? I have stopped putting sugar in my tea and coffee, I don’t use artificial sweeteners

  • Mahima
    15 February 2019

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