home
RSS
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 (780 Responses)
  1. therapists near me

    This is a topic which is close to my heart... Cheers! Where are your contact details though?

    https://www.archiportale.com/click.asp?Url=http://hootnholler.net

    June 12, 2021 at 14:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. smoke shop near me

    http://world-federation-exchanges.org/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=bjsnearme.com/

    June 12, 2021 at 14:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. rv rentals near me

    Hi there! This article could not be written much better! Looking through this article reminds me of my previous roommate! He constantly kept preaching about this. I'll forward this information to him. Pretty sure he'll have a great read. Many thanks for sharing!

    http://kite-rider.com/0link/rank.cgi?mode=link&id=178&url=https://www.bonus-books.com

    June 12, 2021 at 16:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. sprouts near me

    Next time I read a blog, I hope that it does not fail me as much as this particular one. After all, Yes, it was my choice to read through, however I truly thought you would probably have something interesting to say. All I hear is a bunch of whining about something you could possibly fix if you were not too busy seeking attention.

    http://www.fivesector.net/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=bulknearme.com/

    June 12, 2021 at 22:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. big 5 near me

    You ought to take part in a contest for one of the highest quality websites on the internet. I will highly recommend this site!

    http://www.localmeatmilkeggs.org/facebook.php?URL=https://www.masternearme.com/

    June 12, 2021 at 23:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. asian market near me

    I used to be able to find good advice from your blog articles.

    http://www.78901.net/alexa/index.asp?url=bestservicenearme.com/

    June 13, 2021 at 00:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. sam's club near me

    Great post! We will be linking to this great article on our website. Keep up the great writing.

    http://www.bytecheck.com/results?resource=www.bulknearme.com/

    June 13, 2021 at 00:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. junkyards near me

    http://ambientnews.co.uk/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=bestshopnearme.com

    June 13, 2021 at 01:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. sprint store near me

    https://www.bildungslandschaft-pulheim.de/redirect.php?url=https://www.bestlocalnearme.com

    June 13, 2021 at 01:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. panera bread near me

    There's definately a great deal to find out about this subject. I love all the points you have made.

    http://www.burnthouse.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=bestshopnearme.com/

    June 13, 2021 at 02:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Dillon Tartaglia

    I don't know about you people but I infatuated with airplanes. I had a friend in highschool that loved airplanes, so here are some airplane related stuff I don't know about you guys but I love airplanes. I had a friend in highschool that loved airplanes, so here are some airplane related stuff https://www.airlinereporter.com/2009/07/livery-of-the-day-yakutia-airlines/

    http://urlm.co/g/c/f/163873

    June 13, 2021 at 02:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. gastroenterologist near me

    http://sockthief.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=www.quotenearme.com

    June 13, 2021 at 03:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. https://www.yamatocosmos.com

    Best view i have ever seen !

    https://images.google.gy/url?q=https://www.yamatocosmos.com

    June 13, 2021 at 06:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. seafood near me

    http://www.ipc-pet.com/blog/movile/mt4i/mt4i.cgi?id=9&mode=redirect&no=6&ref_eid=76&url=http://www.hootnholler.net

    June 13, 2021 at 09:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. aldis near me

    https://www.shopritedelivers.com/disclaimer.aspx?returnurl=https://bestshopnearme.com

    June 13, 2021 at 14:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. nurseries near me

    http://www.condogateway.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=bestshopnearme.com/

    June 13, 2021 at 17:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. https://www.yamatocosmos.com

    Best view i have ever seen !

    https://maps.google.co.id/url?q=https://www.yamatocosmos.com

    June 13, 2021 at 18:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. mechanic near me

    http://www.stupidhurts.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=internetmarketingidaho.com/

    June 13, 2021 at 19:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. minute clinic near me

    Greetings, I believe your site might be having web browser compatibility problems. When I take a look at your web site in Safari, it looks fine but when opening in Internet Explorer, it's got some overlapping issues. I just wanted to give you a quick heads up! Aside from that, great site!

    http://test.hoshikaze.net/hk-forum/ucp.php?mode=logout&redirect=https://drvaporwarehouse.net

    June 13, 2021 at 20:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. smoke shop near me

    This blog was... how do you say it? Relevant!! Finally I have found something which helped me. Many thanks!

    http://www.powerfulstories.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=lacapillacantina.com/

    June 13, 2021 at 22:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. baskin robbins near me

    Having read this I thought it was rather informative. I appreciate you finding the time and energy to put this short article together. I once again find myself spending a lot of time both reading and posting comments. But so what, it was still worthwhile!

    http://www.transitsystems.net/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=hiddenapples.com

    June 13, 2021 at 23:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. gastroenterologist near me

    Spot on with this write-up, I seriously think this web site needs much more attention. Iíll probably be returning to read more, thanks for the information!

    http://www.asiawebdirect.com/customer/recommend/?url=https://www.cool-air-tech.com

    June 14, 2021 at 00:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. bakeries near me

    https://www.otohits.net/home/redirectto?url=http://www.newwavevisual.com

    June 14, 2021 at 00:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. recycling center near me

    https://freedback.com/thank_you.php?u=https://www.kandypens.com/

    June 14, 2021 at 01:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. king soopers near me

    https://meinvz.net/Link/Dereferrer/?www.onlinebannerdisplayadvertisingservices.com/

    June 14, 2021 at 02:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. canes near me

    http://glowing.com/external/link?next_url=http://bettersightovernight.com

    June 14, 2021 at 03:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. shell near me

    Saved as a favorite, I love your website!

    https://feedroll.com/rssviewer/feed2js.php?src=https://www.callfeeder.com/

    June 14, 2021 at 06:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. big 5 near me

    http://www.e-tsuyama.com/cgi-bin/jump.cgi?jumpto=personaltrainerhub.com

    June 14, 2021 at 08:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. western union near me

    https://sutemos.wip.lt/redirect.php?url=https://www.ocrv.xyz

    June 14, 2021 at 09:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. regions bank near me

    Good article! We will be linking to this great article on our site. Keep up the good writing.

    http://www.is.kyusan-u.ac.jp/htmllint/htmllint.cgi?ViewSource=on;URL=goodworkscustomclothing.com

    June 14, 2021 at 09:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. taxi near me

    There's certainly a lot to know about this topic. I really like all the points you've made.

    https://sc.devb.gov.hk/TuniS/www.getdentalimplantsnearme.com

    June 14, 2021 at 10:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. outback steakhouse near me

    https://doterra.myvoffice.com/Application/index.cfm?&EnrollerID=604008&Theme=Default&ReturnUrl=affordableranking.com

    June 14, 2021 at 16:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. liquor store near me

    Hi, I do think this is an excellent blog. I stumbledupon it 😉 I am going to revisit yet again since I book-marked it. Money and freedom is the best way to change, may you be rich and continue to guide other people.

    https://aarss.com/redir.php?siteref=&aarsslink=forkliftsforsalenearme.com/

    June 14, 2021 at 18:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. bakery near me

    https://webourgeon.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=https://postfallswebsites.com

    June 14, 2021 at 19:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. equipment rental near me

    https://kms.fr/Eprv/Spe/GoPartenaires/?Url=http://ependantprotection.com

    June 14, 2021 at 20:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Camper Repairs Near Me

    Itís difficult to find knowledgeable people in this particular subject, however, you sound like you know what youíre talking about! Thanks

    http://happylife.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=www.ocrvcenter.com/rv-repair-shop-north-hollywood-california

    June 14, 2021 at 22:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. RV Repair Places Near Me

    Great article! We are linking to this great article on our site. Keep up the great writing.

    https://citrix.iamgold.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=https://www.ocrvcenter.com/manufacturing-truck-collision-repair-shop-near-me

    June 14, 2021 at 22:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. RV Repair Orange County

    http://www.funny-games.ws/bookmark.php?url=http://ocrvcenter.com/motorhome-maintenance-near-me

    June 15, 2021 at 00:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Sprinter Repair Shops Near Me

    https://www.saco.se/EPiServerMail/Public/CheckLink.aspx?url=https://ocrvcenter.com/motorhome-upholstery-repair-near-me/

    June 15, 2021 at 00:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. RV Repair Shop Near Me

    https://www.flashback.org/leave.php?u=https://ocrvcenter.com/conventional-trailer-collision-repair-shop-near-me

    June 15, 2021 at 02:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Sprinter Repair Costa Mesa

    http://sc.hkex.com.hk/gb/http://www.ocrvcenter.com/construction-truck-collision-repair-shop-near-me

    June 15, 2021 at 06:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. RV Repair Near Me

    Right here is the right website for anyone who would like to find out about this topic. You know a whole lot its almost tough to argue with you (not that I personally will need toÖHaHa). You definitely put a brand new spin on a topic that's been written about for many years. Great stuff, just excellent!

    http://pantybucks.com/galleries/hpf/64/clair/index.php?link=http://www.ocrvcenter.com/rv-driver-seat-repair-near-me/

    June 15, 2021 at 07:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. RV Repair Orange County

    There's definately a lot to know about this subject. I like all the points you have made.

    http://www.marcellusmatters.psu.edu/?URL=kisiipentecostalchurch.org/component/k2/item/315-rev-peter-franz?start=130810

    June 15, 2021 at 07:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. RV Repair Shops Near My Location

    Hi! I simply would like to offer you a huge thumbs up for the excellent information you have got here on this post. I'll be returning to your blog for more soon.

    http://ww17.2test.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=www.ocrvcenter.com/rv-inspection-near-me

    June 15, 2021 at 09:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Sprinter Repair Shops Near Me

    This is a topic that's close to my heart... Take care! Where are your contact details though?

    http://localbusiness.houmatoday.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=https://www.ocrvcenter.com/city-bus-collision-repair-shop-near-me/

    June 15, 2021 at 10:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. RV Repair Shops Near Me

    http://qatar.vcu.edu/?URL=bitcreature.com/editorials/shut-up-and-drive/

    June 15, 2021 at 13:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Sprinter Repair Orange County

    http://www.weblib.lib.umt.edu/redirect/proxyselect.php?url=http://www.game-mun.com/forum/index.php?topic=4773.msg113083

    June 15, 2021 at 14:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. RV Repair Shops Near Me

    https://www.sweetpaulmag.com/Redirect.aspx?destination=https://www.ocrvcenter.com/rv-repair-shop-la-habra-california

    June 16, 2021 at 01:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. RV Repair San Clemente California

    https://www.devot-ee.com/?URL=https://ocrvcenter.com/rv-service-near-me/

    June 16, 2021 at 02:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. RV Repair Huntington Beach

    https://whois.zunmi.com/?d=www.ocrvcenter.com/rv-repair-shop-granada-hills-california/.com

    June 16, 2021 at 03:44 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14

Post a comment


 

CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

Advertisement
About this blog

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.