My Weekly DIET Club
We are born with a preference for sweet foods so reducing sugar intake isn’t easy. Yet everyone is being urged to cut down to tackle obesity and problems such type 2 diabetes and heart disease. The government has set reduction targets for companies and introduced a sugar tax.
Dietitian Dr Carrie Ruxton says, “We are all consuming too much sugar. An adult’s maximum daily recommended intake is 30g, or 6 teaspoons a day, but we actually consume 60g.” Could low or no-calorie sweeteners help by saving 16 cals per tsp of sugar, or about 150 cals per 330ml can of sugary fizzy drink? Unlike sugar, they don’t cause tooth decay, and avoid sudden rises in blood sugar levels.
Because more overweight people use them, it’s been suggested they may cause, or encourage, weight gain. Long term studies suggest this isn’t the case; simply that people trying to lose weight are more likely to use them.
Neither have suggestions that they stimulate appetite or interfere with satiety (feeling full) been proved. In fact, some studies show slimmers who use low calorie sweetened drinks get better weight loss results those who drink water instead.
Health scares claiming that acesulfame K, aspartame and saccharin cause cancer have been discredited by ongoing safety reviews. The NHS, dietitians and leading diabetes, heart disease and cancer charities agree sweeteners are safe. The exception is people with phenylketonuria (PKU) who cannot break down phenylalanine, an amino acid in aspartame.
Other studies have shown low calorie sweetener users can be more successful at keeping weight off a year after a diet than non-users. Water drinkers also reported hunger more often than sweetener users.