The Truth on Artificial Sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners have been blamed for many ailments, but most of them have been proven scientifically to be safe.

By Carol Sorgen
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Feature

Reviewed By Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD, LD

No getting around it, we Americans have a sweet tooth. Most of us eat the equivalent of 20 teaspoons of sugar a day. True, you're probably not sucking on sugar cubes throughout the day, but you are probably downing more than your fair share of sugary cereals, snacks, sodas, ice cream.. and the list goes on and on.

For the average person, there's nothing wrong with sugar per se, unless all the sweet foods in your daily diet are keeping you from eating and drinking the nutritious foods you need. But for people who are trying to lose weight, or have to watch their blood sugar because of diabetes, too much sugar can be a problem. That's where artificial sweeteners can come in handy. These low-calorie sweeteners, reports the International Food Information Council, are safe to use, provide sweetness without calories, and provide a choice of sweet foods.

A 1998 survey conducted by the Calorie Control Council reported that 144 million American adults routinely eat and drink low-calorie, sugar-free products such as desserts and artificially sweetened sodas. The FDA has approved five artificial sweeteners:

  • Acesulfame potassium (Sunett)
  • Aspartame (NutraSweet or Equal)
  • Sucralose (Splenda)
  • D-Tagatose (Sugaree)
  • Saccharin (Sweet 'N Low)