12 January - 20 June 2016

Small study investigates the acute effects of sucralose ingestion using obese participants

5 June 13

A small study published in Diabetes Care has investigated the acute effects of sucralose (Splenda®) ingestion on metabolic responses.  The scientists report that previous research has indicated that non-nutritive sweeteners (NNS) do not affect glycemia, although some recent studies have indicated that NNS are not physiologically inert.  Taste receptors have been found in the gastrointestional tract and pancreas which can detect sugar.  Some animal model studies have indicated that NNS interact with sweet taste receptors expressed in enteroendocrine cells to increase both active and passive intestinal glucose absorption, although human studies have often failed to reproduce these metabolic outcomes.   Pepino et al from Washington University School of Medicine wanted to test the hypothesis that sucralose ingestion altered glycemic and hormonal response to glucose ingestion in 17 obese people who had an average body mass index of just over 42, who did not have diabetes, who normally did not use NNS.  The team gave the participants, who had fasted overnight for 12 hrs either water or sucralose to drink (60 mL of 2mmol/L sucralose – 48 mg sucralose) before they consumed a glucose challenge test. They report that the concentration of sucralose used was equivalent to that found in a standard 12 oz serving of diet soda if it is all sweetened with sucralose.  Blood samples were obtained and assessed for plasma glucose, insulin, C-peptide, glucagon, glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide and active GLP1 concentration between regular times of 2 – 20 minute before ingestion of 75g of glucose and at regular intervals of between 10 – 300 minutes after ingestion.   Participants were tested on two separate visits, 7 days apart, with those who drank water followed by glucose in one visit drinking sucralose followed by glucose in the next. This meant that the participants could act as his/her control.  Pepino et al report that compared to drinking water, sucralose consumption caused a greater increased in peak plasma glucose concentrations, averaging 20% increase in insulin levels, 22% increase in insulin secretion rate, a 7%  decrease in insulin clearance and a 23% decrease in insulin sensitivity. The scientists state that they don’t know whether these effects are harmful.  They report that the elevated insulin response from sucralose means the participants made sufficient insulin to deal with spiking glucose, which is good, however excess insulin secretion can cause insulin resistance which can subsequently cause type 2 diabetes. Pepino et al states: “Our results indicate that this artificial sweetener is not inert - it does have an effect and we need to do more studies to determine whether this observation means long-term use could be harmful.  Although we found that sucralose affects the glucose and insulin response to glucose ingestion, we don’t know the mechanism responsible.”  Splenda has responded to the findings of the study by stating: “Numerous clinical studies in people with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes and non-diabetic people have shown that Splenda Brand Sweetener (sucralose) does not affect blood glucose levels, insulin, or HbA1c.  FDA and other important safety and regulatory agencies from around the world have concluded that sucralose does not adversely affect glucose control, including in people with diabetes. Experts from around the world have found that Splenda Brand Sweetener is suitable for everyone, including those with diabetes.”

RSSL's Product and Ingredient Innovation Team, has considerable expertise in the selection of sweeteners (both carbohydrate and high potency) to optimise sweetness profiles to cost requirements in a broad range of product categories.  Evaluation of new sweeteners for their market potential is also available.  For more information please contact Customer Services on Freephone 0800 243482 or email enquiries@rssl.com

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