Knowledge and Perceptions of Non-Nutritive Sweeteners Within the UK Adult Population

Nutrients. 2021 Jan 29;13(2):444. doi: 10.3390/nu13020444.


Non-nutritive sweeteners (NNS) are popular sugar substitutes that can help in weight and diabetes management, but concerns regarding their use have been raised by the public. This study aimed to investigate knowledge, benefits and safety perceptions of NNS in a sample of UK adults. The impact of knowledge dissemination on the change in perceptions was also examined. An online survey was distributed through social media platforms and UK Universities and was completed by 1589 participants aged 18 years and above. Results showed a high-risk perception of NNS and a lack of knowledge in regulations in nearly half the population sample. The artificial attributes of NNS further limited their acceptance. Risk perception has been significantly linked to a lower consumption of sweeteners (p < 0.001) and was affected by gender, occupation, education levels, age and body weight status. Information dissemination significantly reduced risk perception and increased awareness of the benefits of NNS. Results suggest that developing effective communication strategies to educate consumers, potentially through trusted health government agencies and professional bodies, can help them to make informed choices. Education of health professionals could also be valuable in reassuring the public of the benefits of NNS.

Keywords: cancer risk; consumer perception; diabetes; food safety; low-calorie sweeteners; non-nutritive sweeteners; weight control.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Consumer Behavior*
  • Diet, Healthy / psychology*
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Health Risk Behaviors*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Non-Nutritive Sweeteners*
  • Perception
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United Kingdom
  • Young Adult


  • Non-Nutritive Sweeteners