Nonnutritive Sweeteners in Weight Management and Chronic Disease: A Review

Obesity (Silver Spring). 2018 Apr;26(4):635-640. doi: 10.1002/oby.22139.


Objective: The objective of this review was to critically review findings from recent studies evaluating the effects of nonnutritive sweeteners (NNSs) on metabolism, weight, and obesity-related chronic diseases. Biologic mechanisms that may explain NNS effects will also be addressed.

Methods: A comprehensive review of the relevant scientific literature was conducted.

Results: Most cross-sectional and prospective cohort studies report positive associations between NNS consumption, body weight, and health conditions, including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Although findings in cellular and rodent models suggest that NNSs have harmful effects on metabolic health, most randomized controlled trials in humans demonstrate marginal benefits of NNS use on body weight, with little data available on other metabolic outcomes.

Conclusions: NNS consumption is associated with higher body weight and metabolic disease in observational studies. In contrast, randomized controlled trials demonstrate that NNSs may support weight loss, particularly when used alongside behavioral weight loss support. Additional long-term, well-controlled intervention studies in humans are needed to determine the effects of NNSs on weight, adiposity, and chronic disease under free-living conditions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Body Weight / physiology*
  • Body Weight Maintenance / physiology*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Non-Nutritive Sweeteners / pharmacology
  • Non-Nutritive Sweeteners / therapeutic use*
  • Obesity / drug therapy*


  • Non-Nutritive Sweeteners