There is no evidence that non-sugar sweeteners provide health benefits and potential harmful effects cannot be ruled out, a literature review published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) has concluded.
A team of European researchers looked at 56 studies comparing healthy adults and children with no intake or a low intake of sweeteners to those with a higher intake.
When factors such as weight, glycaemic control, cancer and cardiovascular disease were considered, “for most outcomes there seemed to be no clinically relevant differences” between the two groups, the researchers found.
Non-sugar sweeteners contributed to smaller BMI score increases in children but did not make a difference to overall body weight. Meanwhile, “no good evidence of any effect of non-sugar sweeteners was found for overweight or obese adults or children actively trying to lose weight”.
However, they add, some of the studies suffer from poor quality evidence, and so “confidence in the results is limited” and “longer-term studies are needed”.