Sweetener use in formulated foods on the rise in the US

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 30th January 2013

New US research from the University of North Carolina has found that 75 per cent of formulated foods contain sweeteners, raising health concerns with the study authors.

The study published in the recent addition of The Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics analysed 85,451 formulated foods, finding that 68 per cent use caloric sweeteners. A further 1 per cent used non-caloric sweeteners, and six per cent used both caloric and non-caloric sweeteners.

Researchers found that caloric sweeteners are used in more than 95 per cent of cakes, cookies and pies, granola, protein and energy bars, ready-to-eat cereals, sweet snacks, and sugar-sweetened beverages, while noncaloric sweeteners are used in more than 33 per cent of yogurts and sport/energy drinks. Noncaloric sweeteners are also used in 42 per cent of waters (plain or flavored), and most dietetic sweetened beverages.

The study comes at a time when concerns are raised about the lack of nutritional value in sweeteners. Author of the study Dr Barry Popkin said that there is concern over the large amount of foods that contain sweeteners, which have been liked to “changing taste preferences, energy intake, and dietary patterns.”

“I believe, the major reason for adding caloric sweeteners is to get us to want to consume this product and consume more of it,” Dr Popkin said.

 “Because there are no nutrients, and caloric sweeteners are what we term empty calories, they should be minimized. For many, like diabetics and people who are at risk of excess weight or are too heavy, labels would help them,” Dr Popkin added.

Dr Popkin said that caloric beverages do not reduce food intake when consumed, and that there is no clear evidence to discourage diet beverages due to the addition of non-caloric or diet sweeteners.