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Obesity (Silver Spring). 2017 Dec;25(12):2049-2054. doi: 10.1002/oby.22005. Epub 2017 Oct 31.

Low-Calorie Sweeteners: Disturbing the Energy Balance Equation in Adolescents?

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Department of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, Milken Institute School of Public Health, The George Washington University, Washington, DC, USA.
Section on Pediatric Diabetes and Metabolism, NIDDK, NIH, Bethesda, Maryland, USA.



The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between low-calorie sweeteners (LCSs), energy intake, and weight in US youth.


Data were collected from individuals aged 2 to 19 years who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2009-2010 (n  =  3,296), 2011-2012 (n  =  3,139), and 2013-2014 (n  =  3,034). Logistic regression, unadjusted and adjusted for age, sex, race/ethnicity, income, energy intake, and physical activity, was used to estimate the odds of obesity in LCS consumers versus nonconsumers, both overall and across product categories (foods vs. beverages) and sociodemographic subgroups.


Among adolescents, the odds of obesity were 55% and 70% higher in LCS beverage consumers than in nonconsumers in unadjusted and adjusted models, respectively. Energy intakes did not differ based on LCS consumption. In contrast, associations between LCS consumption and obesity risk were not statistically significant among children (2-11 y old), except in boys and those who self-identified as Hispanic.


LCS consumption is associated with increased odds of obesity among adolescents. This relationship is strikingly independent of total energy intake. Although findings should be interpreted cautiously because of the limitations of self-reported dietary intake and the cross-sectional nature of this analysis, the observational analysis in this study supports the need to investigate the mechanisms by which LCS may influence body weight, independently of changes in energy intake.

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