The effect of non-caloric sweeteners on cognition, choice, and post-consumption satisfaction

Appetite. 2014 Dec;83:82-88. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2014.08.003. Epub 2014 Aug 13.


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.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aspartame / adverse effects
  • Aspartame / pharmacology
  • Beverages
  • Choice Behavior / drug effects*
  • Cognition / drug effects*
  • Dietary Sucrose / adverse effects
  • Dietary Sucrose / pharmacology
  • Energy Intake*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Non-Nutritive Sweeteners / adverse effects
  • Non-Nutritive Sweeteners / pharmacology*
  • Obesity / etiology
  • Personal Satisfaction*
  • Sweetening Agents
  • Thiazines / adverse effects
  • Thiazines / pharmacology
  • Thinking*
  • Weight Gain*
  • Young Adult


  • Dietary Sucrose
  • Non-Nutritive Sweeteners
  • Sweetening Agents
  • Thiazines
  • acetosulfame
  • Aspartame