"These products can be useful when used appropriately for people like diabetics who need to control their sugar intake and in overweight people," agrees Ruth Kava, PhD, RD, director of nutrition for the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH) in New York City.
Artificial sweeteners do not affect blood sugar levels, but some foods containing artificial sweeteners can still affect blood sugar because of other carbohydrates or proteins in these foods. In other words, while foods that contain artificial sweeteners may be sugar-free, they may not be carbohydrate-free.
Just because a food contains artificial sweeteners instead of sugar is not carte blanche for grazing, Kava points out.
"The real key to weight loss is calories," Kava points out. "If you substitute a diet soda for a sugar soda, you save 100 calories, but if you eat 15 sugar-free cookies [which have calories] instead of two regular cookies, you may not be helping yourself at all," she says...
"Congress said no to the [original call for a saccharin] ban due to backlash but stated that there has to be a warning," ACSH's Kava recalls. "More recently, Congress de-listed saccharin as very high doses may cause bladder cancer in male rats -- not in female rats or anyone else," she says. According to the National Cancer Institute, there's no scientific evidence that any of the artificial sweeteners approved for use in the U.S. cause cancer...
"My overlying feeling is that artificial sweeteners are safe," says ACSH's Kava. "The only caveat is aspartame in people with a rare disorder known as phenylketonuria (PKU), who are unable to metabolize phenylalanine." PKU is detected at birth through a mandatory screening program.
Are Artificial Sweeteners Safe?
By ACSH Staff — March 25, 2005
By ACSH Staff