To: The Dr. Oz Show
From: Haley Curtis Stevens, PhD., President, Calorie Control Council
Re: Misinformation on Low Calorie Sweeteners
Date: April 11, 2014
I am writing on behalf of the Calorie Control Council (“the Council”) regarding the segment featured in a March 10 episode of The Dr. Oz Show titled, “The New Dangers of Artificial Sweeteners.”
Numerous human studies have demonstrated that low calories sweeteners can assist individuals in losing weight and/or maintaining weight loss1-21 – a critical issue in today’s environment of excess calorie intake and obesity.
In a joint statement from the American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association, it was noted, “Substituting non-nutritive sweeteners for added sugars in beverages and other foods has the potential to help people reach and maintain a healthy body weight and help people with diabetes with glucose control.”22 Additionally, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ 2012 position statement on low- calorie sweeteners, concluded that, “It is the position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics that consumers can safely enjoy a range of nutritive sweeteners and nonnutritive sweeteners when consumed within an eating plan that is guided by current federal nutrition recommendations, such as the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the Dietary Reference Intakes, as well as individual health goals and personal preference.”23
Clearly, there is a vast amount of scientific research and expertise supporting the safety and use of low- calorie sweeteners, and the Council is concerned that many of the statements made during the segment were misleading and may elicit unnecessary fear in your viewers. Concerns the Council has with allegations made on your show are addressed below.
Aliases. The Council’s members do not hide low-calorie sweeteners in foods and beverages nor do they use obscure names to “fool” consumers. In the U.S., all ingredients, including low-calorie sweeteners, must be clearly labeled on the ingredient panel using their common names. What the show seems to misunderstand is that there are a wide variety of alternative sweeteners available in the marketplace, and there has been so for quite some time. The names stated on The Dr. Oz Show of some “new sweeteners” are in fact not new and have always been clearly marked in products that contain them.
Appetite. Decades of research on low-calorie sweeteners, which are used in diet beverages and other products, show that when there is control for other factors associated with obesity, low-calorie sweeteners are not associated with weight gain, caloric intake or appetite.1-21,24-27 Much of the research that has suggested associations between low-calorie sweeteners and appetite control have been conducted in rodents who were fed amounts unrealistic for human consumption. There are differences between rodent and human bodily processes and it cannot be assumed that the reported results of these studies would apply in humans; research in humans continues to find a lack of support for this association.
Diabetes. Research has shown that low-calorie sweeteners do not significantly affect insulin or blood glucose levels.6,25-42 Additionally, those studies that have suggested an association between the use of low-calorie sweeteners and metabolic syndrome have failed to prove cause-and-effect as the studies are observational in nature and in fact, reverse causality (meaning those with diabetes may be consuming
alternative sweeteners as a means to control their diabetes) is likely at play. Further, as mentioned, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association all support the use of low-calorie sweeteners.22-23
Addiction/Cravings. There is no scientific evidence to support The Dr. Oz Show’s allegations of addiction to low-calorie sweeteners, increased cravings of sweets due to low-calorie sweeteners, or that low-calorie sweeteners “trick” the body, including the brain, taste buds and stomach. Liking of sweet foods is not an “addiction.” As the Academy for Nutrition and Dietetics noted in their position paper, “Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Use of Nutritive and Nonnutritive Sweeteners,” the “liking of sweet taste is innate” and that “preference for sweet taste may be genetic.”23 Additionally, a 2012 article featured in the Journal of Nutrition found “there is little correlation between sensitivity to sweetness and liking or intake of sweet-tasting products.”43
The Council believes that the inaccurate statements on The Dr. Oz Show on low-calorie sweeteners are a disservice to viewers who trust The Dr. Oz Show and look to the program for nutritional guidance and useful information. We request that a retraction be made by The Dr. Oz Show to address this misinformation. We would be pleased to discuss and/or provide The Dr. Oz Show with additional information on low- and reduced-calorie sweeteners and invite you to contact the Council for information for any future programs on low- and reduced-calorie sweeteners.
We also invite you to visit the Council’s website, www.caloriecontrol.org, which provides a wealth of information on sweeteners.
Haley Curtis Stevens, Ph.D. President Calorie Control Council
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