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May 3, 2004 - Carbohydrate Nutrition News

Position of the American Dietetic Association: Use of nutritive and nonnutritive sweeteners

Reproduced from Journal of the American Dietetic Association, February 2004, 104(2):255-275


Sweeteners elicit pleasurable sensations with (nutritive) or without (nonnutritive) energy. Nutritive sweeteners (eg, sucrose, fructose) are generally recognized as safe (GRAS) by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), yet concern exists about increasing sweetener intakes relative to optimal nutrition and health. Dietary quality suffers at intakes above 25% of total energy (the Institutes of Medicine’s suggested maximal intake level). In the United States, estimated intakes of nutritive sweeteners fall below this, although one in four children (ages 9 to 18 years) can surpass this level. Polyols (sugar alcohols), GRAS-affirmed or petitions filed for GRAS, add sweetness with reduced energy and functional properties to foods/beverages and promote dental health.

Five nonnutritive sweeteners with intense sweetening power have FDA approval (acesulfame-K, aspartame, neotame, saccharin, sucralose) and estimated intakes below the Acceptable Daily Intake (level that a person can safely consume everyday over a lifetime without risk). By increasing palatability of nutrient-dense foods/beverages, sweeteners can promote diet healthfulness. Scientific evidence supports neither that intakes of nutritive sweeteners by themselves increase the risk of obesity nor that nutritive or nonnutritive sweeteners cause behavioral disorders. However, nutritive sweeteners increase risk of dental caries. High fructose intakes may cause hypertriglyceridemia and gastrointestinal symptoms in susceptible individuals.

Thus, it is the position of The American Dietetic Association that consumers can safely enjoy a range of nutritive and nonnutritive sweeteners when consumed in a diet that is guided by current federal nutrition recommendations, such as the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the Dietary References Intakes, as well as individual health goals. Dietetics professionals should provide consumers with science-based information about sweeteners and support research on the use of sweeteners to promote eating enjoyment, optimal nutrition, and health.