The Association between Non-Nutritive Sweetener Intake and Metabolic Syndrome in Adults

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Virginia Tech


Non-nutritive sweeteners (NNS) have been used to replace added sugars in foods/beverages. Research related to NNS consumption and metabolic syndrome (MetS) is of great importance as NNS are often used by individuals who are looking to improve their health. The objectives of this investigation were to determine whether an association between NNS consumption (total and individual types) and MetS exists, and if any of the five risk factors for MetS were more significantly impacted by NNS consumption. Four NNS were included in this study: saccharin, sucralose, aspartame, and acesulfame potassium. Adult participants (n = 125) from Southwest Virginia were recruited for a cross-sectional investigation. Demographics, three 24-hour dietary recalls, and values for MetS (blood pressure, waist circumference, and glucose, triglyceride, and HDL levels) were collected. Statistical analyses included descriptives and multiple linear regressions models. Of the 125 participants, 63 were classified as NNS consumers and 18 met the criteria for MetS. There was a significant positive relationship between MetS and total NNS consumption (p=0.007) and MetS and aspartame (p=0.012). When looking at individual MetS risk factors, waist circumference, triglyceride and glucose values were significantly positively associated with NNS consumption (p≤0.001) and aspartame, sucralose, and saccharin (all p≤0.027). Some limitations to current NNS research were addressed, such as, examining associations between individual NNS types and not using diet soda as a proxy for NNS consumption. More research is needed to address the bias of self-reported data and the lack of randomized controlled trials to inferentially test the impact of NNS consumption.



Non-nutritive sweeteners, metabolic syndrome