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BMC Obes. 2017 Dec 27;4:41. doi: 10.1186/s40608-017-0177-x. eCollection 2017.

Intake of non-nutritive sweeteners is associated with an unhealthy lifestyle: a cross-sectional study in subjects with morbid obesity.

Author information

Department of Research, Innlandet Hospital Trust, PB 104, N-2381 Brumunddal, Norway.
Faculty of Medicine, University of Aalborg, DK-9100 Aalborg, Denmark.
Department of Surgery, Innlandet Hospital Trust, N-2819 Gjøvik, Norway.
Unit for Applied Clinical Research, Department of Clinical and Molecular Medicine, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, N-7491 Trondheim, Norway.



Subjects with morbid obesity commonly use Non-Nutritive Sweeteners (NNS), but the health-related effects of NNS have been questioned. The objectives of this study were to explore the associations between theuse of NNS and the health and lifestyle in subjects with morbid obesity.


This cross-sectional study included subjects with morbid obesity (BMI ≥ 40 kg/m2 or ≥35 kg/m2 with obesity-related comorbidity). Information about demographics, physical and mental health, and dietary habits was collected, and a blood screen was taken. One unit of NNS was defined as 100 ml beverages with NNS or 2 tablets/units of NNS for coffee or tea. The associations between the intake of NNS and the health-related variables were analyzed with ordinal regression analyses adjusted for age, gender and BMI.


One hundred subjects (women/men 83/17; mean age 44.3 years (SD 8.5)) were included. Median intake of NNS was 3.3 units (range 0 - 43). Intake of NNS was not associated with BMI (p = 0.64). The intake of NNS was associated with reduced heavy physical activity (p = 0.011), fatigue (p < 0.001), diarrhea (p = 0.009) and reduced well-being (p = 0.046); with increased intake of total energy (p = 0.003), fat (p = 0.013), carbohydrates (p = 0.002), sugar (p = 0.003) and salt (p = 0.001); and with reduced intake of the vitamins A (p = 0.001), C (p = 0.002) and D (p = 0.016).


The use of NNS-containing beverages was associated with an unhealthy lifestyle, reduced physical and mental health and unfavourable dietary habits with increased energy intake including sugar, and reduced intake of some vitamins.


Diet; General health; Life style; Non-nutritive sweeteners; Obesity

Conflict of interest statement

The study was approved by the Norwegian Regional Committees for Medical and Health Research Ethics, PB 1130, Blindern, 0318 Oslo, Norway (reference number 2012/966) and performed in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki. Written informed consent was given by all participants before inclusion.Not applicable.The authors declare that there are no conflicts of interest.Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

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