New York, NY -- May 1, 2006. Five low-calorie sugar substitutes currently available in the United States -- acesulfame-K, aspartame, neotame, saccharin, and sucralose -- are safe for consumer use. That is the conclusion -- described in a new publication, Sugar Substitutes and Your Health -- of a panel of scientists affiliated with the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH). The publication also discusses so-called "bulk sweeteners" such as the sugar alcohols manitol and sorbitol.
The new publication is based on a recently-published scientific review article (Kroger M, Meister K, and Kava R. Low-calorie sweeteners and other sugar substitutes: a review of the safety issues. CRFSFS 2006; 5:35-47) summarizing the extensive scientific studies of the safety of sugar substitutes. Although concerns have been raised in the past about possible cancer-causing potential of some sweeteners such as saccharin, these concerns have been laid to rest by more recent information.
Some of the sugar substitutes -- such as saccharin and aspartame -- have been in the American marketplace for decades without substantiated adverse health effects. Newer products -- such as neotame and sucralose -- have also passed a variety of safety tests.
Because these products are intensely sweet, only tiny amounts are needed to mimic the sweetness of sugar (aspartame, for example, is approximately 180 times as sweet as sugar). Thus, these sugar substitutes lower the calorie content of the foods they sweeten, which makes them useful for people trying to reduce their caloric intake to help lose weight. Even those sweeteners that do provide some calories yield far fewer than would the sugar needed to provide a similar level of sweetness.
"Consumers can be assured that the use of these intense sweeteners poses no health risk," stated ACSH nutrition director Dr. Ruth Kava. "Probably the most widespread nutrition problem facing Americans today is the overconsumption of calories, leading to overweight and obesity," she continued. "These substitute sweeteners, when used appropriately, can help reduce calorie intake."
According to Dr. Elizbeth Whelan, ACSH's president, "The scientific data reviewed in Sugar Substitutes and Your Health should reassure those who have been frightened by the wild accusations that sweeteners cause a variety of ailments -- there is no scientific basis for such stories."