Date of this Version
The Journal of Nutrition, 142: 1155S–1162S, 2012; doi:10.3945/jn.111.149609
The rise in pediatric obesity since the 1970s has been well established in the United States and is becoming a major concern worldwide. As a potential means to help slow the obesity epidemic, low-calorie sweeteners (LCS) have gained attention as dietary tools to assist in adherence to weight loss plans or prevention of excess weight gain. Observational studies tend to show positive correlations between LCS consumption and weight gain in children and adolescents. Although the data are intriguing, these epidemiologic studies do not establish that LCS cause weight gain, because there are likely many lifestyle and genetic differences between children and families who choose to consume LCS and those who do not. Short-term randomized controlled trials have shown LCS use to be BMI neutral or to have modest weightreducing effects in overweight and obese adolescents. The long-term effects of LCS in children and adolescents are unknown. Some compelling research is currently underway and may provide needed insight into the potential role of LCS in weight management. The paucity of data regarding the effects of LCS use in children and adolescents creates challenges in decision-making for health care providers and parents.