Low-Calorie Sweeteners and Body Weight with Rick Mattes [Podcast]

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If you’re looking for ways to reduce the calories, carbohydrates and sugars from your diet, then you’re not alone. Low-calorie sweeteners are one option many people turn to, but conflicting information about them has left other people sour.

On this edition of DataDish: Your Trusted Serving of Science, we speak with Dr. Richard Mattes to give us a taste of where the science stands on low-calorie sweeteners. He is a Distinguished Professor of Nutrition Science at Purdue University, where also directs the Public Health Graduate Program and Ingestive Behavior Research Center.

Some highlights:

  1. Do low-calorie sweeteners live up to the hype? It all depends on how we use them, according to Dr. Mattes. They have no magical properties in and of themselves, but they can be helpful in reducing the calories you eat when substituted for sugar.
  2. What has your research shown about low-calorie sweeteners? Dr. Mattes discusses his most recent research projects, specifically a new clinical trial on aspartame and its potential impact on blood sugar.
  3. Are there potential downsides to consuming low-calorie sweeteners? While some argue that low-calorie sweeteners are “toxic,” global health authorities disagree. Safety is not viewed as a potential downside, but there are a two areas where Dr. Mattes believes low-calorie sweeteners may not be helpful.
  4. What are the most interesting areas of research happening right now on low-calorie sweeteners? Dr. Mattes identifies and discusses two areas of inquiry that are in their infancy and worth following: neural imaging and the microbiome.
  5. Can low-calorie sweeteners cause weight gain? This claim is often made by those skeptical of low-calorie sweeteners. Support for this hypothesis comes from outlier studies, or those with conclusions vastly different from the majority. Dr. Mattes clarifies where the scientific literature stands on low-calorie sweeteners’ role in body weight.  

Hope you enjoy the podcast! For more information on low-calorie sweeteners, check out our latest resources, including our science overview, closer look at the microbiome, and infographics on acesulfame potassium, aspartame, monk fruit, saccharin, stevia and sucralose.