A joint statement released (July 2012) by the American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association cautiously recommends using sweeteners to help people maintain a healthy body weight and for diabetics to aid glucose control.
The six sweeteners included in the review were aspartame, acesulfame K, neotame, saccharin, sucralose, and plant-derived stevia.
Amongst their findings:
• sweeteners help only as long as people don’t eat additional calories later as compensation
• using sweeteners in beverages works best – people don’t really notice the lack of kilojoules in a diet soda and so don’t tend to eat more, whereas if they consume a low-kilojoule yogurt or other foodstuff, they do tend to eat more as compensation.
• just replacing sugar with artificial sweeteners leaves a person, especially children, conditioned to high levels of sweetness, which is likely to influence their food choices adversely
• We should consider these products to be like a nicotine patch; they are appreciably better than the real product (sugar), but not part of an optimal diet.