Consumers often turn to non-caloric sweeteners (NCS) as a means of promoting a healthy body weight. However, several studies have now linked their long-term use to increased weight gain, raising the question of whether these products produce unintended psychological, physiological, or behavioral changes that have implications for weight management goals. In the following, we present the results of three experiments bearing on this issue, testing whether NCS-consumption influences how individuals think about and respond to food. Participants in each of our three experiments were randomly assigned to consume a sugar-sweetened beverage, an unsweetened beverage, or a beverage sweetened with NCS. We then measured their cognition (Experiment 1), product choice (Experiment 2), and subjective responses to a sugar-sweetened food (Experiment 3). Results revealed that consuming NCS-sweetened beverages influences psychological processes in ways that - over time - may increase calorie intake.
Keywords: Artificial sweetener; Cognition; Consumer choice; Food consumption; Satisfaction.
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