In a new research review, researchers found that using sugar substitutes may not help people lose weight.
They suggest that the best way to cut back on sugar to weight loss, in general, is drinking water and choosing low- and no-sugar foods.
The study was done by a group of European researchers.
Sugar substitutes are food additives. They are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and get approval before they are used in food.
Common approved artificial sweeteners include saccharin, aspartame, sucralose, neotame, acesulfame potassium, and advantame.
Sugar substitutes have become popular because they can be as sweet as sugar while providing few or no calories. This means food additives may help people lose weight.
In the current research review, the team wanted to test the link between intake of non-sugar sweeteners and important health outcomes in healthy or obese adults and children.
They reviewed 56 studies and found that in adults, there was little evidence that intake of sugar substitutes had an impact on BMI, a number that indicates obesity.
Sugar substitutes use also did not influence fasting blood sugar levels.
In fact, lower intake of artificial sweeteners was linked to lower weight gain compared with a higher intake of the sweeteners.
In children, a smaller increase in BMI was observed with sugar substitutes intake compared with regular sugar intake.
The team also found that there was no evidence of any effect of artificial sweeteners on overweight or obese adults or children who actively tried to lose weight.
The team suggests that artificial sweeteners could provide little health benefits to people. Future work needs to confirm the findings.
For people who want to cut the sugar in their diet, it is better to drink plain water and eat food low in sugar.
The lead author of the study is Ingrid Toews, a researcher from the University of Freiburg.
The study is published in The BMJ.
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