A study published in the March 3, 2020 journal Cell Metabolism claiming that consuming a carbohydrate with sucralose-sweetened beverages causes metabolic impairment leading to insulin sensitivity has a number of limitations and is in contradiction to the current body of evidence indicating that sucralose does not negatively impact insulin sensitivity in healthy adults,1-4 according to the Calorie Control Council. “The new study allegations are contrary to decades of testing and approval by regulatory authorities around the world, which have found low and no calorie sweeteners (LNCS), including sucralose, to be safe for use and effective in helping with diabetes and weight management,” said Robert Rankin, president of the Council.
The limitations of the study, “Short-Term Consumption of Sucralose with, but not without, Carbohydrate Impairs Neural and Metabolic Sensitivity to Sugar in Humans,” included:
- Small sample size; only included 13 in the experimental group.
- Took place over a short period; the study lasted only two weeks.
- Nutrition data was self-reported and collected only at baseline, leaving room for other components of the diet and diet-related behavior to play a role in the findings.
- Lacked clinical significance. While the authors report a statistically significant difference between the groups for insulin response, no group differences were found in glucose response. It is unclear whether these findings are clinically relevant, as one would expect to see similar effects in glucose response.
- Lacked a washout period, which would demonstrate whether the effects were reversible and distinguish between short and long term effects that may ultimately lead to disease.
What the Experts Say
Global health organizations around the world, including The American Heart Association, American Diabetes Association and British Dietetic Association note that the use of LNCS can be helpful for people with diabetes as they do not raise blood glucose or insulin levels, and when used to replace sugar, can help lower carbohydrate intake.
“For individuals affected by excess weight or diabetes, nutrition plays a major role. Low and no calorie sweeteners, including sucralose, are excellent tools to reduce sugar intake, manage blood glucose levels, and reduce overall calorie intake,” added Rankin.
Leading organizations have utilized the most rigorous and extensive testing methods to evaluate LNCS for use in diabetes management and have concluded:
- For some folks, using these products are great alternatives to sugar. The potential decrease in calories and carbohydrates, could lead to better long-term blood sugar, weight, and/or cardiometabolic health. – American Diabetes Association
- “Substituting LNCS for free sugars may be a useful, relatively simple strategy (or a “stepping stone”) to help reduce calorie intake and assist with weight management. The strategy may be particularly helpful and practical for people who regularly consume sweet foods and drinks and prefer a sweet taste…Replacing free sugars with LNCS can be a helpful strategy to aid glucose management”. – Diabetes UK
For a half a century, The Calorie Control Council has been reviewing science on low calorie sweeteners and diet products. Established in 1966, the Council is an international association representing the low- and reduced-calorie food and beverage industry. Council staff includes experts certified in public health, food and nutrition. More at caloriecontrol.org.
Jelle R. Dalenberg, Barkha P. Patel, Raphael Denis, Maria G. Veldhuizen, Yuko Nakamura, Petra C. Vinke, Serge Luquet, Dana M. Small Short-Term Consumption of Sucralose with, but Not without, Carbohydrate Impairs Neural and Metabolic Sensitivity to Sugar in Humans Cell Metabolism: Clinical and Translational Report Volume 31, ISSUE 3, P493-502.e7, March 03, 2020
- Brown AW, Brown MMB, Onken KL, Beitz DC. Short-term consumption of sucralose, a nonnutritive sweetener, is similar to water with regard to select markers of hunger signaling and short-term glucose homeostasis in women. Nutr. Res. 2011; 31: 882–888.
- Ford HE, Peters V, Martin NM, et al. Effects of oral ingestion of sucralose on gut hormone response and appetite in healthy normal-weight subjects. Eur. J. Clin. Nutr. 2011; 65: 508–513.
- Grotz, VL, Pi-Sunyer X, Porte DJ, Roberts A, Trout JR. A 12-week randomized clinical trial investigating the potential for sucralose to affect glucose homeostasis. Regul Toxicol Pharmacol 2017; 88: 22-33
- Ma J, Chang JJ, Checklin HL, et al. Effect of the artificial sweetener, sucralose, on small intestinal glucose absorption in healthy human subjects. Br. J. Nutr. 2010; 104: 803–806