There is an ongoing debate about the possible influences of nonnutritive sweeteners (NNS) on body weight. We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) with NNS to assess their impact on body weight. We systematically searched for RCTs at least 4 weeks in duration, evaluating the effect of NNS on body weight, both in subjects with healthy weight and in subjects with overweight/obesity at any age, and compared the effects of NNS vs caloric and noncaloric comparators. The primary outcome was the difference in body weight between NNS and comparators. Twenty studies were eligible (n = 2914). Participants consuming NNS showed significant weight/BMI differences favouring NNS compared with nonusers. Grouping by nature of comparator revealed that NNS vs placebo/no intervention and NNS vs water produced no effect. When comparing NNS vs sucrose, significant weight/BMI differences appeared favouring NNS. Consumption of NNS led to significantly negative weight/BMI differences in unrestricted energy diets, but not in weight-reduction diets. Participants with overweight/obesity and adults showed significant favourable weight/BMI differences with NNS. Data suggest that replacing sugar with NNS leads to weight reduction, particularly in participants with overweight/obesity under an unrestricted diet, information that could be utilized for evidence-based public policy decisions.
Keywords: artificial sweeteners; body weight; obesity; systematic review.
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