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Are sugar substitutes worse than the real thing?
April 27th, 2012
07:21 AM ET

Are sugar substitutes worse than the real thing?

Sweet tooth? You’re not alone. Sugary foods and beverages are delicious. But we’ve also learned they can be highly addictive and, too much of them, can take a serious toll on our health.

Today some of our favorite drinks, gum, baked goods, and candy are available in sugar-free versions. But that got me thinking...  are sugar substitutes any better for you than the real thing? I was not alone on this issue. I’ve received dozens of tweets and emails wondering if fake sugar can harm us, or worse, crave more food!

For some answers I turned to internist and physician nutrition specialist, Dr. Melina Jampolis. Her specialty is practiced by only 200 physicians in the United States. She focuses exclusively on nutrition for weight loss and disease prevention and treatment.

  • CNN: First of all – are all sugar substitutes pretty much the same?

Dr. Jampolis: It is important to understand that there are both natural and artificial substitutes. Most of the concerns people have are around the five FDA-approved artificial sweeteners: Acesulfame potassium (Sunett, Sweet One), Aspartame (Equal, NutraSweet), Neotame, Saccharin (SugarTwin, Sweet'N Low), and Sucralose (Splenda).

But it is important to point out that these sweeteners are all different. They all have different chemical make-ups and they are handled differently in the body - some are completely broken down, some are not. So you can’t just lump them into one thing if you do have concerns about them.

  • CNN: How are natural sweeteners – like stevia - different? And are they a healthier option compared to artificial sweeteners?

Dr. Jampolis: Stevia is a natural sweetener from South America that has no calories but is 250 times sweeter than sugar.  It has seen a huge surge in popularity since its clearance as GRAS (generally regarded as safe) as a food additive in 2008.  Stevia has been proven safe and effective by the FDA. Many nutrition experts prefer it since it is natural, but just because something is natural does not always mean that it is safer. I tell my patients that if you prefer the taste of a natural sweetener, then I think it is a very good option but there isn’t evidence that it is a healthier option compared to artificial sweeteners.

  • CNN: There is always a lot of buzz linking sugar substitutes and cancer. Is there any reason for people to be worried?

Dr. Jampolis: The studies that I have seen, and the studies the National Cancer Institute have reviewed, all point to the fact that in humans there is no compelling evidence. It is really more of just a few animal studies. In the 1960s there was a study of saccharin in rats, which found an increase in bladder cancer and caused a great deal of fear. However, it was later found that the mechanism by which it caused cancer in rats was not even possible in humans. Animal studies do not always reflect human response and saccharin is a great example of this. Aspartame is also often anecdotally linked to brain disorders based on small animal studies, but human studies have not shown an association. I think that at this point, we don’t have convincing research. It is more hype and really just a little bit blown out of proportion.

  • CNN: I’ve also heard that sugar-free foods and drinks can make you crave more food and calories. It sort of tricks your body. Any truth to that?

Dr. Jampolis: This is an interesting question which has not been answered definitely.  The taste of sweet does cause the release of insulin, which lowers blood sugar , and if carbohydrates are not consumed,  it causes a drop in blood sugar which triggers hunger and cravings for sugar.  So if an artificial sweetener is consumed alone, it could theoretically increase hunger.  However in the context of a meal, it is not known if it causes an increase in hunger and if so, it's not known if this outweighs the decrease in calories consumed. We know that some artificial sweeteners do cause a release of insulin which could drop your blood sugar and make you crave more sugar actually. And they also seem to trigger the same addition like pathways in the brain.

  • CNN: Okay - so would I be better off eating one small piece of candy made with real sugar, or a larger portion that is sugar-free?

Dr. Jampolis: Honestly I don’t think there is a correct answer.  In my opinion, if you consume it after a meal (not on an empty stomach), I would go by preference.  If you really enjoy a piece of chocolate with real sugar, having a small amount is fine. If you like the taste of sugar-free cherry candy, that’s OK.  As long as we consume things in moderation, I don’t think either option is harmful.

When we start talking about beverages (soda versus diet soda) it becomes more of an issue. Sugar-sweetened beverages can contribute hundreds of extra calories to the diet that we don’t fully compensate for. And many experts, including myself, feel that it significantly contributes to weight gain, especially metabolically toxic weight gain and metabolic abnormalities.

  • CNN: I remember a study a few years back that found people who drink diet soda tend to weigh more than people who don’t.  Why do you think that is?

Dr. Jampolis:  A lot of studies show that diet soda is linked with being overweight but there isn’t a clear answer as to why. Is it because they drink diet soda that they are overweight? Or is it because it actually causes weight gain? We all know people who drink diet sodas all day long, but then go home in the evening and have a large serving of ice cream. However, there is some evidence suggesting an increased risk of metabolic syndrome with diet soda intake. So I think the best advice is probably to limit both regular and diet soda consumption for optimal health, especially with children.

  • CNN: Bottom line: if I want to cut down my sugar consumption, are sugar substitutes a safe option for me?

Dr. Jampolis:  I don’t think that they are a good idea for children since we don’t fully understand the potential metabolic/programming effects. If there is even the possibility of an increased risk of any disease, a lifetime of exposure would increase that risk.

In adults, I think they can be safely consumed in moderation if you are diabetic and are trying to reduce sugar and/or trying to lose weight and reducing caloric intake as they help reduce the calorie density of foods - which is one of the most important components of permanent weight loss. If you feel like you are dependent on sugar, I suggest limiting consumption, particularly in beverages, as the high intensity of their sweetness could contribute to dependency.

In general, I like to see people trying to decrease the overall sweetness of their diet over time – adding fresh fruit to water instead of sugar-sweetened beverages or substituting things like applesauce for some of the sugar in baked goods can boost nutrients while reducing calories and sugar. I don’t recommend using "healthier-sounding" alternatives to sugar - like honey - unless you prefer the taste, as they contain the same amount of sugar as table sugar.



soundoff (213 Responses)
  1. MojoJack

    WARNING:
    In the event you lift the flap to read the ingredients we are legally required to inform you that this product contains POISON.
    We use poison in our products to provide flavor in place of sugar and to reduce calories and prevent tooth decay. Long term consumption of this product can result in dizziness, muscle pain and irreversible neurological damage up to and including death.

    Once upon a time you could chew gum with no worries.

    April 28, 2012 at 18:19 | Report abuse | Reply
    • PG

      I had all those symptoms when I used artificial sugars. I thought I was dying. When I stopped, my symptoms went away. Never again!

      April 28, 2012 at 22:34 | Report abuse |
    • Omniscient Creator

      PG

      You DID die....

      Welcome to the afterlife!

      Who knew it was a CNN blog?

      April 29, 2012 at 14:23 | Report abuse |
    • jk

      You clueless wonder. If you know of peer reviewed research the shows that it is poison, share it with all. Understand what peer reviewed means before pointing us to some magazine or self published rag. Also, how many cases of sugar free poisonings where reported last year or even last ten years? How many cases of cancer have been linked to sugar free anything? Guess what, you don't need any fingers to count the numbers. Anytime someone discusses sugar substatute, nuts like you start yelling 'poison' with nothing but hot air to back up the claim.

      April 29, 2012 at 15:32 | Report abuse |
    • James

      AMEN BROTHER!! Dr. Jampolis sounds like she's on the payroll of the food and beverage giants, as well as the pharmaceutical co's, any idiot can google those food additives and "poisen" written all over them.

      April 29, 2012 at 15:33 | Report abuse |
    • cherie

      Your so right!!! It's absolutley poison. This whole article doesn't answer anything

      March 13, 2013 at 21:43 | Report abuse |
  2. BSH

    There's no question in my mind that artificial sweeteners are bad. Aspartame and Sucralose cause adverse reactions in my children. Both of them become extremely hyperactive from chemical sweeteners, whereas HFCS, corn syrup and regular sugar do not cause a similar reaction. Based on the short-term effects, I can only wonder what the long-term effects of chemical use are. For my kids health, no chemical sweeteners allowed.

    April 28, 2012 at 18:33 | Report abuse | Reply
    • lantenec

      "Aspartame and Sucralose cause adverse reactions in my children. Both of them become extremely hyperactive from chemical sweeteners, "

      Anecdotal evidence = meaningless

      April 28, 2012 at 20:17 | Report abuse |
    • mhill

      You need to do some research, HFCS is chemically modified. The sucrose and fructose are separated, and the the fructose is more than doubled. The human body is not meant to break down such high levels of fructose, which leads to obesity and a whole lot of other health issues. If it's not plain, raw sugar it is NOT natural by any stretch of the imagination. If human hands have touched it, you can bet it has been chemically altered. Consumers are greatly misled and it's very sad, and scary.

      April 29, 2012 at 10:18 | Report abuse |
    • oh my

      people please please. don't fall into the sugar lobby's trap. look up what makes up table sugar and then look up what makes up HFCS. the scariest thing about HFCS is its name. both table sugar contain the two same ingredients except the latter is only slight- yes, slightly higher in fructose. i think table sugar is a 50/50 mix and the other one is like a 47/53 mix. the sugar industry has funded work to get people to buy table sugar because their sales dropped when people swtiched to HFCS and artificial sweeteners

      April 29, 2012 at 11:24 | Report abuse |
    • oh my

      need to clarify my above post- both table sugar & HFCS– both contain fructose/glucose

      April 29, 2012 at 11:26 | Report abuse |
    • gidgetgirl

      I agree whole heartedly! I sweeter my breast milk with cocoa powder and three packets of Sweet-n-Low and every time for the next three months she would always have diarrhea within 30 minutes. I finally figured thing sour and just buy the regular cow chocolate milk and put it in her feeding bottle and she has been fine.

      April 29, 2012 at 12:30 | Report abuse |
    • Oh, Shut Up

      Every time someone drags out Think Of The Children, I immediately go out and support whatever it is being criticized. Fortunately, I'm going to the store today and I'm running out of Splenda. Time to support the stuff that's poisoning your ickle kiddies.

      April 30, 2012 at 06:27 | Report abuse |
    • kaelinda

      When I was raising my kids, there were no artificial sweeteners. It was sugar itself that made my kids hyperactive. And my friends' kids, and my neighbors' kids and my relatives' kids. Any sugar after 5 pm kept the kids up til midnight or later. So, for my own kids, there were no cookies, candies (except candy canes at Christmas), no ice cream or cake (except for birthdays), no pies or other pastries, no sugar in tomato sauce or bread (yes, we had to make our own for most of my young adult life). To this day, my children, my grandchildren, and my great grandchildren do not consume 'added' sugar, even on their breakfast cereals (and they don't eat pre-sweetened cereals). All of them drink water or unsweetened iced tea. There have been several studies that said that sugar does not make children hyperactive, but you can't prove that by the behavior of any child I've ever known!

      May 1, 2012 at 01:02 | Report abuse |
    • savvysearch

      The worst evidence is "I gave my kid sweeteners and it cause him to jump off the walls." There is no way you know that's the cause of that. Children's excitement levels are unpredictable. And it's always human nature to blame what we eat.

      May 1, 2012 at 18:46 | Report abuse |
  3. Mark Ramsey MD

    This article presents unproven theories as facts. Shame on you Sanjay- you need to fact-check. You are a better doctor than this. Here is a link for starters: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20619074

    April 28, 2012 at 18:33 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Shame on who?

      Did you even read the article? What exactly did Sanjay say that you have a problem with? Actually, Sanjay took a pretty conservative approach to this issue.

      April 28, 2012 at 21:36 | Report abuse |
    • JohnBoy

      Actually, Sanjay says the evidence is inconclusive and recommends moderation. Shame on you for not reading the article or having a knee-jerk reaction to something you enjoy drinking. Sheesh!

      April 29, 2012 at 01:40 | Report abuse |
    • Brad

      What a lousy article.

      April 29, 2012 at 07:23 | Report abuse |
    • jk

      Did you actually read the article? And you're an MD? I guess, in regards to this article, all Doctors are not created 'Equal'

      April 29, 2012 at 15:03 | Report abuse |
    • kyle

      Nice article and the full text is actually free.

      April 29, 2012 at 15:11 | Report abuse |
    • John John

      The article is actually pretty correct, but the commenters are pretty much mindless. Problems with artificial sweeteners are MORE RARE than those experienced with sugar. There are a lot of BAD websites that tout the evils of various sweeteners but all of them are just wrong. The ones that link aspertame with neuro-disease are just laughable. Proof is easy... Aspertame use is up 50000% neuro-disease up 0%. I don't see any correlation, by your bad math may vary.

      April 29, 2012 at 23:07 | Report abuse |
    • Lydia Uribe

      Er, the last sentence of the abstract for the review article cited above reads "Thus, the data from extensive in vivo studies in human subjects show that low-energy sweeteners DO NOT HAVE ANY of the adverse effects predicted by in vitro, in situ or knockout studies in animals." (emphasis added). What point were you trying to make?

      May 1, 2012 at 15:58 | Report abuse |
  4. Dan

    In Roman times, they used lead acetate as an artificial sweetener. So at least it's not that bad.

    April 28, 2012 at 18:37 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ty Webb

      As far as you know...

      April 28, 2012 at 20:09 | Report abuse |
    • JohnBoy

      The fall of the Roman Empire has often been attributed to acetate... except by conservatives who attribute it to Obama.

      April 29, 2012 at 01:42 | Report abuse |
    • gravid07

      The Roman empire didn't fall to a chemical. It fell to the hordes.

      Lead acetate felled the Roman Empire.... jeebus what are they teaching kids in schools these days?

      May 1, 2012 at 19:23 | Report abuse |
    • Makbule

      Pleasure I live in the UK, so I was hoping it was sohitmeng i could make. Never mind. My husband got intolerance tests and came out red-red-red against sugar, it makes his joints swell up (more than they already are) So I have been delving into the sugar free world for a while. He doesnt always stay on the wagon because we all know how addictive it is But he sure feels a difference when he avoids it.

      May 24, 2012 at 06:38 | Report abuse |
  5. Count Chocula

    I use xylitol. It is a type of suger alcohol that does not cause tooth decay. The question I have, is "what does xylitol do for blood sugar levels?"

    April 28, 2012 at 18:51 | Report abuse | Reply
    • PWS

      Count- It has a blood glucose rating of 13 (like broccoli/cauliflower), pretty negligible. Still has calories, though. I use erythritol, although it's more expensive, less sweet than xylitol, still natural, zero calories and zero effects on glucose. Goofy as it sounds, I'm also afraid of my dog getting into xylitol, which can have deadly consequences.

      April 28, 2012 at 19:25 | Report abuse |
    • dianawelsh

      I've recently found the joys of xylitol gum, when I can afford it. I'm allergic to nutrisweet, even one sip of a diet soda causes a full anaphylactic reaction, so I hadn't had good gum in years. I can't afford to use xylitol anywhere else, I stick to cheap sugar, but, I'm glad to be able to chew gum again.

      April 29, 2012 at 11:29 | Report abuse |
  6. sandy

    I'm not sure how you prove diet drinks cause metabolic syndrome when their traditional market is a population more at risk for it in the first place. It's handy, though - writers can alternate articles about the evils of diet soda with those concerning the horrors of drinking sugary drinks. (Oh, and don't forget how environmentally unsound it is to drink water in plastic bottles. We're approaching the point of absurdity with these articles. If you don't drink coffee and you're away from home you've got a problem.)

    April 28, 2012 at 23:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. slugqueen

    Given her responses, Dr Jampolis has the backing of the artificial sweetener lobby. How much you wanna bet?

    April 28, 2012 at 23:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. popeye1128

    The sugar lobby is alive and well.

    April 28, 2012 at 23:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. MandoZink

    This guy obviously knows little about Stevia. I discovered Stevia when I found out it was the original sweetener in Vernors Ginger Ale. Stevia is a natural sweetener from a South American plant. It has no sugar content and does NOT promote tooth decay. By using Stevia I completely stopped an ongoing tooth decay problem I was having. The sugar industry, which had no investment in Stevia, worked hard to keep it off the market by having the FDA ban it as a food additive. Oddly enough, when Coca-cola decided to invest in it, Stevia suddenly was approved. Gee. Not until the big guys could make money off of it did that happen. One side effect I should mention using Stevia – I was developing a fat stomach which somehow disappeared without even exercising. Hmmm. I would say that was that was OK.

    April 28, 2012 at 23:47 | Report abuse | Reply
    • oh my

      Fail! stevia was on its way to being approved long before the big guys got involved. i live overseas and saw what was happening where i live. stop with the conspiracy theories please

      April 29, 2012 at 10:54 | Report abuse |
    • MandoZink

      I'm sorry you think I am one of those conspiracy-prone nuts. When I learned oft Stevia years ago, I tried to find out where and how to buy it. I talked to 2 dentist friends of mine, and I researched as much as I can to find out what may be going on. I am extremely resourceful and use only legitimate sources for information. I can also recognize conspiracy nonsense in mere seconds. I am NOT prone to that type garbage. Everything I discovered was about as much as could be found out at the time. I believe even Wikipedia backs me up, without specifically indicting the industry.

      This is what went on in the USA, not in some other country. It concerned our FDA (Food and Drug Administration) here in America.

      April 29, 2012 at 11:21 | Report abuse |
    • jk

      Actually mandozink, you do sound like you just found the guy on the grassy knoll.

      April 29, 2012 at 15:09 | Report abuse |
    • cynicalla

      I decided to try Stevia to sweeten my tea, hoping to lessen my calorie intake, I used about 1/3 the recommended amount and immediately had a sinus reaction, hadn't drank even half my cup of tea! Searched online and discovered it is a cousin of ragweed and can cause allergic reactions in those who are allergic to ragweed. Why isn't this printed on packages of stevia? Beware if you have ragweed allergy!

      April 29, 2012 at 17:47 | Report abuse |
  10. 4commonsensenow

    I won't take the time to argue the point of sweetners or the effects.I choose to abstain as a rule.I thought that I would inject some commonsense into this article and point out this fact. If the arguement is that studies in rats do not transmit to proper data into the effects of humans, then why are they murdering rats for no good reason.Should we just beat our skulls off the wall and hope to understand the headache? Better research data please.This all smells like a corporate campaign to push sweetners vs sugar. Sugar hasnt killed me yet, so the argument doesnt hold an absolute conclusion to me.Peace

    April 29, 2012 at 06:17 | Report abuse | Reply
    • MikeInMaine

      It is not the goal of science to convince your little brain of something. Science is a methodology of discovery. This article is just basically saying that scientists don't yet fully understand the impacts of consumption of artificial sweeteners.. so be careful and if you must indulge, consume in moderation.

      April 29, 2012 at 07:29 | Report abuse |
    • kyle

      Sadly you are wrong, go into any hospital and the majority of the patients are in their with vascular disease caused by diabetes and sugar is the reason. So sugar DOES hurt since any addition of it to foods causes unhealthy insulin response.

      April 29, 2012 at 15:16 | Report abuse |
  11. JimfromBham

    Our system of food and drug development (and approval by the FDA) makes it difficult to sift through these kind of articles. The FDA does not have the staff to monitor everything and run independent tests. As a result, they depend on the industry to bring them test results from clinical trials, etc. The FDA manges the system by exception instead of proactively getting on top of every development to find out whether it is harmful to the public. That may be the best system we can afford, but debacles like Vioxx result from it.

    April 29, 2012 at 07:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Angiek

    Read this whole article, twice.. and still confused! No real info here!!

    April 29, 2012 at 07:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. The_Mick

    I'm glad to see Splenda's safety reinforced. I like my pancakes almost swimming in syrup and my favorite version now comes in an excellent-tasting Splenda version that's only 30 Cal/quarter cup vs 210 Cal for the regular version. That saves me 300-400 Calories and keeping the weight off is a healthier benefit that would offset a slightly increased health risk from an artificial sweetener.

    April 29, 2012 at 08:20 | Report abuse | Reply
    • md22mdrx

      WHere in the world are you getting "SPlenda's safety has been reinforced"?!? Are you a J&J stooge? SPlenda's safety has NOT been reinforced and in fact, many of the websites speaking out against it have been shut down by J&J's lawyers to try to hush up the fact that Splenda is POISON.

      April 29, 2012 at 10:55 | Report abuse |
    • ranch111

      Wrong. If you just didn't eat your pancakes "swimming" in anything, you'd be better off.

      April 29, 2012 at 11:59 | Report abuse |
    • kyle

      Right on, I'm the same way. The only problem with splenda and other artificial sweetners is the IDIOTS who think that drinking diet soda all days means they can eat 1000 calorie fast food meals and suck down a bowl of ice cream every day.

      April 29, 2012 at 15:19 | Report abuse |
    • jk

      Md22mdx, did you hear...THE SKY IS FALLING! You clueless wonder. If you know of peer reviewed research the shows that it is poison, share it with all. Understand what peer reviewed means before pointing us to some magazine or self published rag. Also, how many cases of sugar free poisonings where reported last year or even last ten years? How many cases of cancer have been linked to sugar free anything? Guess what, you don,t need any fingers to count the numbers. Anytime some discusses sugar substatute, nut like you start yelling 'poison with nothing but hot air to back up the claim.

      April 29, 2012 at 15:26 | Report abuse |
  14. Mateou

    I just go for the full sugar versions of the food. Mmmnnnnn way better. Tastes better Less chemicals and more filling.
    WAY BETTER!!!!!!,

    April 29, 2012 at 10:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. AZ

    I gradually started decreasing my sugar intake and now I can drink my tea without sugar. I think our body just demands addictions ,so if we avoid , the avoiding itself becomes an addiction.. curb the cravings and body will program itself slowly.

    April 29, 2012 at 11:08 | Report abuse | Reply
    • jf

      Wonderfully accurate statement with regard to avoiding and ultimately not missing. Sugar and fat hold a special place in our evolution, which drives our desire to consume them. Now, our surfeit intake of calories works against our hardwired attraction to sweet and fat. Avoiding sweet and saturated fats provides a huge step in controlling calorie intake and effecting leaner body composition.

      April 29, 2012 at 22:13 | Report abuse |
  16. jkl

    if we learned to just eat and drink in moderation- there wouldn't be a market for artificial sweeteners

    April 29, 2012 at 11:14 | Report abuse | Reply
    • dianawelsh

      Actually there would still be a market, it would just be a more restricted market. Not every case of diabetes is due to excess. Look at Juvenile Diabetes for example. Not everyone can process sugar well either, there are people who can't. But yes, it would be a much more restricted market.

      April 29, 2012 at 11:35 | Report abuse |
    • Keith

      Diana, diabetes has nothing to do with sugar

      April 29, 2012 at 23:03 | Report abuse |
  17. danielle

    Use only organic sugar, in moderation. When I hear the FDA is invoved in anything, big warning signs go out. This agency allows all these chemicals in our foods. They ONLY protect big food and phamaceutical companies.

    April 29, 2012 at 11:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. sweet tooth

    Artificial sweetners are fake sweet-tasting sweetners that are too powerful for the body, like putting jet fuel in a car. It's too powerful for the car. They trick the brain to think real sugar is coming into the body because the taste is sweet. Then the brain signals the pancreas to make insulin. Howver the artificial sweetner is an amino acid, not a sugar and when lots of insulin is produced but no sugar is in the body, it can make the pancreas not produce insulin over time. Then when real sugar is actually eaten, the pancreas no longer produces sufficient insulin and the real sugar is in the body, taken into the bloodstream! THis is a problem. Eating only the natural sugar in fruit ilike fructose is the safest and healthies form of sugar. Stay away from table sugar and artifical sweetners.

    April 29, 2012 at 11:46 | Report abuse | Reply
    • D

      This is comment is more clearly stated than anything in the article.

      April 29, 2012 at 14:09 | Report abuse |
    • kyle

      Sadly your belief is not supported by science, where all the research into insulin and blood sugar levels after consuming artificial sweetners shows you are completely wrong. Fructose on the other hand is pretty bad for you since it enters the body in non-insulin regulated pathways that can reduce glucose processing and cause blood levels to be erratic.

      April 29, 2012 at 15:24 | Report abuse |
  19. ranch111

    Enjoy!

    “Methanol is particularly dangerous to humans, more so than any other animal [...] When humans consume low doses of methanol it is metabolized directly into formaldehyde which is a cancer producing agent of the same level of danger as asbestos and plutonium.”

    http://naturalsociety.com/methanol-biproduct-of-aspartame-linked-to-autism-preterm-delivery/#ixzz1tM3kfkU4

    April 29, 2012 at 11:57 | Report abuse | Reply
    • kyle

      Got any real science articles to back your ridiculous alarmism?

      April 29, 2012 at 15:25 | Report abuse |
    • Russell Jeffords

      Sure, you're right (within some amount of reason). However.....the amount of methanol produced by even ludicrious overconsumption of Nutrasweet (like, say, 200 liters of diet Coke a day would yield 100 milligrams of methanol).

      100 milligrams of methanol is found in 1.5 oz of cheap brandy (as is a similar amount of isopropanol, and other higher alcohols).

      You are correct, methanol is metabolized to formaldehyde, which induces the Mallaird browning reaction in proteins via the Amadori rearrangement.....and is thus dangerous.

      In the amounts available through Nutrasweet decomposition, though, you are worrying about less than that – over a year – contained by consuming ONE Bud Light.

      Get a PhD or get out of the writing about science biz. You suck at it.

      April 29, 2012 at 19:28 | Report abuse |
    • jf

      RJ: Perfect! Lots of foods contain naturally occurring methanol-like fresh squeezed OJ for example. Not sure that a PhD is required though-just more emphasis on common sense and credible authorities when researching scientific issues. Pubmed is likely a better research platform than Google.

      April 29, 2012 at 22:26 | Report abuse |
    • Keith

      The paid deniers are out in force today.

      April 29, 2012 at 23:02 | Report abuse |
  20. ProgHead777

    I've been consuming artificial sweeteners most of my life and I have no complaints. I know others who have been using them even longer, also with no complaints. Some of these sweeteners have been on the market for decades and there is no compelling scientific evidence to suggest that they are harmful. They are approved by scores of regulatory agencies all over the world. Show me evidence compelling enough to counter all of that, and then I'll listen. Until then, you can take all your paranoid conspiracy theories and your hysteria induced, nocebo effect anecdotes and keep on walking because they are less than worthless to me.

    April 29, 2012 at 15:24 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Keith

      ProgHead is a paid poster for this article, read carefully. They revealed that they had a bit too much information about the products.

      They are countering any suggestion that the artificial sweeteners are bad for you. It has been proven bad so many times but the payola is too big to get it taken off the market.

      April 29, 2012 at 23:00 | Report abuse |
  21. ozob15

    I prefer to drink my beverages with BOTH aspartame and high fructose corn syrup, for that extra zing in the flavor.

    April 29, 2012 at 15:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Russ

    One of the components Aspartame converts into in the human body is formaldehyde, a known carcinogen. I won't touch the stuff.

    April 29, 2012 at 16:05 | Report abuse | Reply
    • ProgHead777

      That's true. Aspartame is metabolized into methanol and the methanol is converted into formaldehyde. The same thing also happens with many kinds of fruit juice, including orange juice, as well as beer and wine. Formaldehyde is also naturally occurring in the human body. It's the amount that makes the difference and the amount of formaldehyde produced by the metabolism of aspartame is actually less than that of these other sources.

      April 29, 2012 at 17:55 | Report abuse |
  23. pcox104

    I don't know about cancer, but when I drink Diet Coke I get this ADD feeling and my brain can't think clearly. Coffee and regular Coke does not do this. Those chemicals in diet drinks are doing something, though what and which ones I don't know.

    April 29, 2012 at 18:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Keith

    There is the longest lie I have seen printed in quite a while. Diet drinks make you gain weight. If you must drink that crap, soft drinks, go to a store that sells Kosher food and buy your Cokes, etc there with Cain sugar in them. Use Agave sugar, Cain sugar, honey and stevia.

    All the chemical sweeteners are bad for you. If you don't think money can buy the seal of approval from our Government you are delusional.

    April 29, 2012 at 22:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Keith

    Don't eat things with High Fructose Corn syrup in them either. Corn is what they feed hogs to fatten them up, it doesn’t seem that it would be that good for you to eat a highly concentrated form of corn unless you want to get fat. It is a pretty nasty chemical process to get corn syrup out of the corn too. Stay away, unless you really don't care how long you live or if your healthy or not.

    April 29, 2012 at 22:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. svann

    There is nothing wrong with sugar, as long as you dont over-indulge – and brush after.

    April 30, 2012 at 00:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Connie

    I am very sensitive to artificial sweeteners and MSG. Both make me spacey , and occasionally I get hallucinations. They should be banned. People make food for pot lucks with them, and there is no way to know that the food contains these daemons. They should be banned!

    April 30, 2012 at 02:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Ogg Oggleby

    As a healthy man with no health issues and no medication, I experienced very significant irregular heart beat problems when I was eating foods with artificial sweeteners. It was very frightening and brought on by, for example, rushing quickly up a flight of stairs, or riding my bicycle, etc. After reading about someone else with the same issues reportedly brought on by artifical sweeteners, I immediately cut out all artifical sweeteners, including chewing gum. As soon as I cut out absolutely all foods with artifical sweeteners, it cleared up and has never returned. I will never eat artificial sweeteners again ...EVER!

    April 30, 2012 at 02:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Haggus

    Hey's a shocker... I've had close to 10k of those Sugar Twin (Canadian version) packages over the last four years (yes, I've tracked it,) and I'm over 100 pounds lighter and still alive. Last time they were checked, my bladder, liver and kidney all were fine with the exception of having pass a kidney stone (it turned out to be mostly made out of calcium.)

    I think the bottom line is that your mileage may vary on the fake sugars. They made a difference in my life as it kept me thinner over four years now.

    April 30, 2012 at 03:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. sholome

    "Is it because they drink diet soda that they are overweight? Or is it because it actually causes weight gain?"

    or maybe its just that diet soda is to blame for weight gain, who knows?:)

    April 30, 2012 at 03:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Dan Bednarik

    Congratulations! You have not provided any compelling answers to any of the questions - do you always answer a question with another question?

    April 30, 2012 at 08:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Benson Danneskjold

    Dr. Jampolis needs to brush up on his endocrinology. Your body is not so easily fooled and just because something tastes sweet it will illicit an insulin response if there is no sugar. Common sense should tell you this because if it were true, a can of diet soda would induce a hypoglycemic crisis and diabetics commonly use fructose as a sweetener specifically because it does not cause a significant insulin response despite being sweeter than table sugar.

    But if he needs a little science to back that up he can check out Ford HE et al 2011, Ma J, et al 2009, and Teff KL 1995. Artificial sweeteners are the metabolic equivalent of sand.

    April 30, 2012 at 10:20 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Benson Danneskjold

      it will NOT illicit an insulin response if there is no sugar.

      April 30, 2012 at 10:22 | Report abuse |
  33. Canada: America's Hat

    It's different for everyone. I use Splenda, my fiancee uses Sweet & Low, my sister uses real sugar, etc etc. It all depends on the taste you like.

    Don't act like your opinion is fact – someone isn't going to read your post and go "Alright already, I have been so wrong..I must have [insert your choice here] because someone on the internet told me so!"

    Stating what you use and why is fine – pushing it on someone or insulting them because they dare to have a differing viewpoint is not.

    April 30, 2012 at 10:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Leo

    Why is it so difficult for people to consider drinking WATER instead of soda and other artificially flavored garbage? I drink tap water. If the tap water in your area is nasty, get a filter bottle. I save a TON of money by drinking water, and I feel healthier. Give it a try, folks. The only things you have to lose are high blood sugar, high blood pressure, and excess body fat.

    April 30, 2012 at 10:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. www.healthy24.net

    I am happy in reading this brief and nice article. Thanks to CNN and Dr. Jampolis for their long conversation.

    April 30, 2012 at 13:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Michelle Tennant

    I read in a book published by the creators of Spinning, "Today people are eating products not food to nourish their bodies. Stop eating products. If your great grandpa didn't eat it, neither should you." I love that advice. It does make a difference in how my body feels. Skip the products, period.

    May 1, 2012 at 11:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. rmforall

    The Woodrow C. Monte methanol/formaldehyde toxicity paradigm is that concentrations of ADH enzyme, well known to exist in blood capillaries in specific tissues in humans only, turn methanol into formaldehyde inside the cells of the capillary walls - the highly reactive formaldehyde diffuses to penetrate adjacent tissue cells, binding to DNA, RNA, and proteins, attracting macrophages, which also die, creating complex, expanding micro lesions.

    Methanol sources include wood and cigarette smoke, canned fruits juices vegetables, fermented and smoked foods, some wines and liquors, aspartame, and more...

    Google, Woodrow C. Monte, While Science Sleeps, for many links.

    May 1, 2012 at 16:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. savvysearch

    It's nice that a professional is able to elucidate the general scientific knowledge on sweeteners fairly. Most people judge it by other people's personal anecdotal evidence, which is useful only to the most impressionable people.

    BTW, just because you don't get a response that backs up you're own, doesn't mean people are cogs of lobbyists. That's such a cop out to silence professional opinion.

    May 1, 2012 at 18:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Mediamike55

    Two resources for my comment below that I recommend checking out:
    http://www.hungryforchange.tv/
    http://www.aquahydrate.com

    I am not a fitness expert, but I always evaluate what I eat by how natural it is. Especially with drinks. Ditch the soda and sports drinks and drink water. Eat healthy and you will live healthy. On the note of water – I recommend AquaHydrate. Its a alkaline water with trace minerals and electrolytes. Very good stuff and although not proven, there are many benefits to alkalinity, hydration and recovery. http://www.aquahydrate.com.

    You should also watch Hungry for Change – There is a web preview clip at http://www.hungryforchange.tv/. Its a great insight to the modern day use of sugar and sugar alternatives. They relate it to cocaine.

    Stay healthy and stay away from Sugar.

    May 16, 2012 at 12:09 | Report abuse | Reply
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    May 21, 2012 at 17:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. worst thing

    Thanks for the insights, keep up the amazing work.

    June 4, 2012 at 01:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Jared

    What's funny is that I did a science fair project on this sbject when I ws in sixth grade.

    November 27, 2012 at 20:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Debbie Johnson-Este

    My husband is Diabetic which sweetener would be safest for him

    May 28, 2013 at 15:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Debbie Johnson-Este

    I am not Diabetic but use artificial sweetener also so any suggestions would be appreciated

    May 28, 2013 at 15:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Rick Krzyston

    Stevia is a plant that contains natural sweeteners that are used in foods. Researchers have also evaluated the effect of chemicals in stevia on blood pressure and blood sugar levels. However, research results have been mixed.`,,`

    Latest piece of content on our very own blog <http://wellnessdigest.co/index.php

    July 5, 2013 at 07:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Casey

    Why would these chemicals affect everyone the same way? Just because you had a bad reaction to an artificial sweetener doesn't mean that it's bad for everyone. That's like saying "I have a peanut allergy, therefore the world should boycott peanuts" So yea....... logic people.

    November 3, 2013 at 04:38 | Report abuse | Reply
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.