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Press Release

Position of Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Safely Enjoy Sweetened Foods Within a Healthful Eating Plan

2012-05-01

Media Contacts: Ryan O'Malley, Allison MacMunn
800/877-1600, ext. 4769, 4802 media@eatright.org

People have an "innate" preference for foods that are sweet, and consuming high levels of sugar can increase a person's risk of obesity. However, people can safely enjoy the range of sweeteners, both calorie-containing and no-calorie, as part of an eating plan that is guided by current nutrition recommendations, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association).

In a newly updated position paper on nutritive and non-nutritive sweeteners, the Academy says:

It is the position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics that consumers can safely enjoy a range of nutritive sweeteners and nonnutritive sweeteners when consumed within an eating plan that is guided by current federal nutrition recommendations, such as the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the Dietary Reference Intakes, as well as individual health goals and personal preference.

The Academy's updated position paper was published in the May Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and can be found on the Academy's website. It was written by registered dietitians Cindy Fitch, extension professor at West Virginia University; and Kathryn S. Keim, professor of clinical nutrition at Rush University.

Greater consumption of foods and beverages with added sugars is associated with higher calorie intake, yet lower diet quality, according to the authors. On average, adults in the United States consumer 14.6 percent of their calories from added sugars. According to the authors: "A preference for sweet taste is innate and sweeteners can increase the pleasure of eating. Nutritive sweeteners contain carbohydrate and provide energy. They occur naturally in foods or may be added in food processing or by consumers before consumption. Higher intake of added sugars is associated with higher energy intake and lower diet quality, which can increase the risk for obesity, prediabetes, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease."

Registered dietitians can help people of all ages follow a healthful eating plan while enjoying the sweet taste of foods with calorie-containing and no-calorie sweeteners. The authors offer suggestions for healthfully consuming nutritive and non-nutritive sweeteners:

  • Cut back on calorie-containing sweeteners by drinking fewer sugar-sweetened beverages, sports or fruit drinks.
  • Decrease consumption of foods that are high in added sugars, such as sugar-sweetened beverages or grain-based desserts, including cakes, cookies and pastries.
  • Enjoy the sweet taste of foods and beverages but keep your calorie count lower by choosing from the variety of no-calorie sweeteners approved for use by the Food and Drug Administration.
  • As part of a healthful eating plan as outlined in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, safely enjoy the range of calorie-containing and no-calorie sweeteners in foods and beverages. 

The position paper also contains information for health professionals on such timely issues as corn sweeteners, sugar addictions and newer sweeteners on the market including agave and luo han guo extract.

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The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is the world's largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. The Academy is committed to improving the nation's health and advancing the profession of dietetics through research, education and advocacy. Visit the Academy at www.EatRight.org.