Consuming Less Sugar and More Sweeteners Is Not Necessarily A Good Thing, Experts Say

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Americans’ love affair with sugar dates back a long time. “We are biologically programmed to like sweet things,” says Nicole Avena, Ph.D., an assistant professor of neuroscience at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City.

As new research suggests, sugar consumption is down 15 percent from its peak in 1999, but that’s not necessarily an improvement, according to experts. Sugar is being replaced by artificial sweeteners, which by all means aren’t as healthy and some would assume and have their own set of health implications.

“With excessive sugar consumption linked to chronic cardiometabolic diseases, sugar reduction has become an important public health strategy. This has resulted in greater innovation by the food industry and increased use of NNS in our food supply,” said lead investigator Barry Popkin, PhD, W.R. Kenan Jr. Distinguished Professor, Department of Nutrition, Gillings Global School of Public Health, and Carolina Population Center, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, NC, USA.

As a new study published July 29 in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics shows, Americans are now opting for products made with artificial sweeteners instead of sugary ones, believing they’re healthier and less caloric options.

Between 2002 and 2019, the sales of sugary sweetened products has declined, according to what researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found, analyzing Nielsen data on Americans’ purchasing habits.

This can be a good thing only because it shows that people are trying to be more health-consciousness now that they’ve been in the past, however, experts worry that consumers might think that sweeteners are much healthier than sugar, which are not.

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