Experts Weigh Pros and Cons of Low-Calorie Sweetened Drinks

Experts Weigh Pros and Cons of Low-Calorie Sweetened Drinks

Low calorie drinks have always touted that they do not contain any natural sugar, which, for many years, was considered a harmful thing to have in soda.

The American Heart Association recommends:

  • no more than 25 grams of sugar daily for women (six teaspoons)
  • no more than 37.5 grams of sugar daily for men (nine teaspoons)
  • Kids and teens should stay under 25 grams of sugar daily
  • Children under 2 should have no added sugar

Many sodas contain around 39 grams of sugar per can.

This information encouraged people to flock to “diet” sodas in an attempt to satiate their cravings without the extremely high levels of sugar. This is where companies started introducing non-sugar sweeteners such as stevia and aspartame.  32% of drinks consumed by adults contain low-calorie sweeteners (2007-2010).  19 % of drinks consumed by kids contain low-calorie sweeteners (2007-2010).  These sweeteners boasted that they had no calories or low calories, which is correct, but there is also very little historical testing done to the safety of these products or any supporting information of their claims.

Some studies even indicated that people who consume diet drinks with no calories are simply eating more elsewhere, negating the effect altogether.  Low calorie sweeteners can alter how the body processes glucose and can disrupt gut microbiome.

Until enough research has been done, experts are recommending that children avoid soda altogether. Adults should only use these diet sodas as a transitional drink on their way to converting to juice or water.

Key Points:

  • 1Long term effects of low calorie sweeteners are relatively unknown.
  • 2Many users of low calorie sweeteners replace the calories saved with other high-calorie foods.
  • 3Full sugar drink consumption is declining, and the beverage industry is responding to consumer demand for low-calorie options.

Ultimately, water is the best option, whether plain, carbonated or flavored but not sweetened, followed by low-calorie sweetened drinks, said Allison Sylvestsky Meni of George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

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