We’re a month into 2015, and it’s time to check up on your New Year’s Resolutions. Are you hitting the gym, getting more sleep, or watching your calorie intake? If you consume foods with low-calorie sweeteners, you may have a head start on your health resolutions.
Research has already established low-calorie sweeteners as a useful tool for weight management. Now, new research shows in more detail how low-calorie sweetener use and a healthful lifestyle go together. In fact, a recent study in Nutrients suggests that individuals who consume low-calorie sweeteners tend to have better diet and exercise habits.
Infographic by the Center for Public Health and Nutrition at the University of Washington.
Researchers from the University of Washington looked to gain insight on the health habits of low-calorie sweeteners consumers. They used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) collected between 1999 and 2008. NHANES captures health and nutrition information from more than 22,000 people across the US. Using this large data source gave the researchers a thorough view of how Americans who consume low-calorie sweeteners eat and exercise.
The researchers reviewed survey participant diets using the Healthy Eating Index, a USDA tool to compare an individual’s diet to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Think of the Healthy Eating Index as a “report card” for an individual’s diet – the higher your score, the better you’re doing. Low-calorie sweetener consumers had much higher scores on the Index than those who did not consume low-calorie sweeteners. This score means low-calorie sweetener consumers tend to be at the head of the class in having a healthful diet. Want even more good news for low-calorie sweetener lovers? Analysis showed that individuals who consume them tended to be more physically active than those who don’t. They were also less likely to be smokers.
Check out this useful infographic (right) for more information on the results of this study.
As with any cross-sectional study, keep in mind that correlation does not equal causation. This study only shows that low-calorie sweetener consumption correlates with better Healthy Eating scores. It does not suggest that low-calorie sweetener consumption causes the healthful eating habits. But it does show that the two tend to go hand-in-hand.
This study is able to contradict unproven claims about low-calorie sweeteners and weight management. For example, it shows that low-calorie sweeteners fit into a healthful diet, rather than causing “cravings” for sweet foods. The relationship between low-calorie sweeteners and healthful habits also provides insight into existing research. A separate 2014 study showed that consumption of low-calorie sweeteners is high among successful “weight loss maintainers” (individuals who have not only lost weight, but also kept it off). Low-calorie sweetener consumers cut calories by choosing foods made with low-calorie sweeteners instead of caloric sweeteners. They are also eating higher-quality, more balanced diets and getting more physical activity. No wonder individuals who consume low-calorie sweeteners tend to have success controlling their weight long-term.
This latest research can help you rest assured. When you incorporate low-calorie sweeteners into your diet, you’re not sacrificing healthfulness or taste. Whether you are setting goals for the New Year or maintaining your weight, remember that research has proven low-calorie sweeteners to be a useful tool for success. Low-calorie sweeteners, when consumed as part of a healthful diet and exercise plan, can help you achieve a lighter, fitter 2015.
Have more questions about low-calorie sweeteners? Wondering how low-calorie sweeteners can fit into your diet and exercise plan? Check out: