Artificially sweetened, sugar-free drinks a good substitute for sugary drinks to shed pounds
Among individuals with abdominal obesity, drinking beverages with artificial sweeteners (ASBs) or no sugar (USBs) instead of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) helps lose body weight, a study has found. However, USBs have a more favourable effect on sweet taste preference compared with ASBs.
Researchers randomly assigned 203 adults (59.6 percent male) with body mass index ranging from 18.5 to 40.0 kg/m2 who habitually consumed SSBs (12 fl oz daily) to groups given SSBs (n=67), ASBs (n=67), or USBs (n=69) for 12 months. These beverages were given for free and delivered to the participants’ houses to replace SSBs consumed at baseline. The participants were asked to drink beverages consistent with group assignment. At the end of the intervention, they tasted all of the samples again and selected one as an overall favourite concentration.
The overall retention rate at 12 months was 91.6 percent. The 17 dropouts were uniformly distributed among study groups (seven in SSB, seven in ASB, and three in USB group).
At month 12, the primary outcome of serum triglyceride to high‐density lipoprotein cholesterol ratio was similar across the three groups. Overall change in weight did not likewise significantly differ between the groups, although an effect modification by central adiposity was observed (p=0.006).
Specifically, among participants in the highest tertile of baseline trunk fat but not other tertiles, the SSB group gained 4.4 kg as opposed to an increase of only 0.5 kg in the ASB group and a decrease of 0.2 kg in the USB group.
The USB group showed a significant reduction from baseline in both sweetness threshold (mean, –1.0 percent m/v; p=0.005) and favourite concentration (mean, –2.3 percent m/v; p<0.0001), whereas neither changed in the SSB group. In the ASB group, on the other hand, sweetness threshold remained unchanged, but favourite concentration decreased (–1.1 percent m/v; p=0.02). Pairwise comparison between the ASB and USB groups indicated a difference in sweetness threshold, in favour of the latter (p=0.015).
In view of the present data, the researchers pointed out that USBs, as replacements for SSBs, may promote adherence to low‐sugar diets.