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Low calorie sweeteners: Consumer perceptions of safety and use in weight control

Posted: 28 August 2013 | Helena Gibson-Moore Nutrition Scientist, British Nutrition Foundation | No comments yet

This article presents an update on low calorie sweeteners including results from consumer research which examined attitudes towards low calorie sweeteners, the European Food Safety Authority’s (EFSA) consultation on the safety of aspartame, Stevia in the marketplace and the role of low calorie sweeteners in weight management.

A preference for sweet taste is an inborn characteristic that spans all age groups, races and cultures. Food acceptance, especially in young children, is often influenced by sweet taste. Carbohydrates, including sugar, together with fat, are the main sources of energy (calories) in our diets. In general, lifestyles are becoming increasingly inactive, and with obesity rates burgeoning, many consumers need to make lower calorie food choices – low calorie sweeteners offer one possible way to achieve this. Low calorie sweeteners have been available on the market for over a century as a means of providing a sweet taste to foods or drinks with the benefit of little or no calories compared to sugar, thus making possible no- and low-sugar varieties of popular brands which feature in almost everyone’s diet. However, headlines in the media regarding the safety and effects of intense sweeteners are often confusing and many people are unsure about the role and value these sweeteners have in the diet. It is also important for consumers to be aware of any new low calorie sweeteners that have been approved by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), such as Stevia, and how they fit into the marketplace, as well as the role low calorie sweeteners have, if any, in contributing to weight control.

This article presents an update on low calorie sweeteners including results from consumer research which examined attitudes towards low calorie sweeteners, the European Food Safety Authority’s (EFSA) consultation on the safety of aspartame, Stevia in the marketplace and the role of low calorie sweeteners in weight management. A preference for sweet taste is an inborn characteristic that spans all age groups, races and cultures. Food acceptance, especially in young children, is often influenced by sweet taste. Carbohydrates, including sugar, together with fat, are the main sources of energy (calories) in our diets. In general, lifestyles are becoming increasingly inactive, and with obesity rates burgeoning, many consumers need to make lower calorie food choices – low calorie sweeteners offer one possible way to achieve this. Low calorie sweeteners have been available on the market for over a century as a means of providing a sweet taste to foods or drinks with the benefit of little or no calories compared to sugar, thus making possible no- and low-sugar varieties of popular brands which feature in almost everyone’s diet. However, headlines in the media regarding the safety and effects of intense sweeteners are often confusing and many people are unsure about the role and value these sweeteners have in the diet. It is also important for consumers to be aware of any new low calorie sweeteners that have been approved by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), such as Stevia, and how they fit into the marketplace, as well as the role low calorie sweeteners have, if any, in contributing to weight control.

This article presents an update on low calorie sweeteners including results from consumer research which examined attitudes towards low calorie sweeteners, the European Food Safety Authority’s (EFSA) consultation on the safety of aspartame, Stevia in the marketplace and the role of low calorie sweeteners in weight management.

A preference for sweet taste is an inborn characteristic that spans all age groups, races and cultures. Food acceptance, especially in young children, is often influenced by sweet taste. Carbohydrates, including sugar, together with fat, are the main sources of energy (calories) in our diets. In general, lifestyles are becoming increasingly inactive, and with obesity rates burgeoning, many consumers need to make lower calorie food choices – low calorie sweeteners offer one possible way to achieve this. Low calorie sweeteners have been available on the market for over a century as a means of providing a sweet taste to foods or drinks with the benefit of little or no calories compared to sugar, thus making possible no- and low-sugar varieties of popular brands which feature in almost everyone’s diet. However, headlines in the media regarding the safety and effects of intense sweeteners are often confusing and many people are unsure about the role and value these sweeteners have in the diet. It is also important for consumers to be aware of any new low calorie sweeteners that have been approved by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), such as Stevia, and how they fit into the marketplace, as well as the role low calorie sweeteners have, if any, in contributing to weight control.

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