Non-nutritive sweeteners and obesity

Annu Rev Food Sci Technol. 2015;6:119-36. doi: 10.1146/annurev-food-022814-015635. Epub 2014 Dec 22.


Non-nutritive sweeteners (NNSs) provide sweetness to foods and beverages without adding calories. They have thus been found useful in minimizing the dietary sugar content of diabetics and the dietary energy content of individuals attempting to lose or maintain body weight. Their usefulness in weight reduction has recently been questioned, however, based on the notion that they can actually increase hunger and food intake and thereby promote weight gain. The evidence offered in support of this idea comes principally from the fields of taste physiology, metabolic endocrinology, human behavior, and epidemiology. This review evaluates this evidence and does not find it compelling. Indeed, the most straightforward findings to the contrary derive from several intervention studies in both children and adults showing that the chronic, covert replacement of dietary sugar with NNSs does not increase, and can in fact reduce, energy intake and body weight.

Keywords: enteroendocrine cells; epidemiology; glucagon-like peptide 1; humans; insulin; sweet taste receptor.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Energy Intake
  • Humans
  • Obesity / etiology*
  • Sweetening Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Sweetening Agents / adverse effects
  • Taste Buds


  • Sweetening Agents