Can artificial sweeteners help with weight loss?


When saccharin, the first artificial sweetener, was discovered in 1879, it was considered a boon for diabetics. This is because it can sweeten foods without causing a spike in blood sugar, as an organization devoted to saccharin research and history notes. Since that time, an avalanche of artificial sweeteners has flooded the market, with promises of not only diabetes management but weight loss as well. The idea, of course, is that the lack of calories and carbohydrates in artificial sweeteners allows people to enjoy the sweet flavors without the metabolic rate hike. (Sounds like the ultimate example of “have your cake and eat it too”, right?)

As of 2023, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved six types of artificial sweeteners:

  • Saccharine (Sweet N Low, Sweet Twins, Sweet Necta)
  • Aspartame (NutraSweet, Twin Sugar, Equal)
  • Acesulfame potassium, or Ace-K (Sweet One, Sunett)
  • sucralose (Splenda)
  • Neotame (Neotame)
  • In front of me

Each has its own unique advantages and disadvantages, and numerous studies have examined the safety and effectiveness of each for weight loss. However, fake sweeteners have been plagued with accusations of everything from causing cancer to making you pack on extra pounds instead of shedding them.

Wondering if reaching for a pink or blue little box can really lead to weight loss? That’s what science and experts say.


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