Artificial sweeteners: a systematic review of metabolic effects in youth

Int J Pediatr Obes. 2010 Aug;5(4):305-12. doi: 10.3109/17477160903497027.


Epidemiological data have demonstrated an association between artificial sweetener use and weight gain. Evidence of a causal relationship linking artificial sweetener use to weight gain and other metabolic health effects is limited. However, recent animal studies provide intriguing information that supports an active metabolic role of artificial sweeteners. This systematic review examines the current literature on artificial sweetener consumption in children and its health effects. Eighteen studies were identified. Data from large, epidemiologic studies support the existence of an association between artificially-sweetened beverage consumption and weight gain in children. Randomized controlled trials in children are very limited, and do not clearly demonstrate either beneficial or adverse metabolic effects of artificial sweeteners. Presently, there is no strong clinical evidence for causality regarding artificial sweetener use and metabolic health effects, but it is important to examine possible contributions of these common food additives to the global rise in pediatric obesity and diabetes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Beverages
  • Child
  • Child Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Energy Metabolism / drug effects*
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology
  • Humans
  • Obesity / etiology
  • Obesity / prevention & control
  • Sweetening Agents* / administration & dosage
  • Sweetening Agents* / adverse effects
  • Sweetening Agents* / metabolism
  • Weight Gain*


  • Sweetening Agents