ATLANTA — Findings presented in a study titled “Experience with the high-intensity sweetener saccharin impairs glucose homeostasis and GLP-1 release in rats” examining a link between previous consumption of saccharin and blood sugar control is critically flawed.

The Calorie Control Council cites the following as serious limitations of the study:

  • The majority of rats that started the study did not finish it. So few rats were left at the end of the study that it cannot be ruled out that results could have been due to chance.
  • The study relied on rats consuming a saccharin-sweetened yogurt or solution on top of their regular diet. Rats that did not consume the majority of the extra food were not counted in the study. Thus, the rats that were left in the study, and which the results were based on, may have had an underlying issue that caused them to eat more and have higher blood sugar levels.
  • Rats are a poor model for the study of low-calorie sweeteners in humans. Many clinical studies in humans have shown that consumption of low-calorie sweeteners does not lead to an increase in blood glucose levels, energy intake, feelings of hunger, or body weight controlling for other factors.
  • This study claims to agree with the findings of epidemiological studies that suggest a link exists between increased consumption of high-intensity sweeteners and obesity, such claims are inaccurate. For example, although a study out of the Cleveland Clinic found a weak association between soda sweetened with low-calorie sweeteners and the risk of a stroke, the researchers emphasized: “Our finding of an association between low-calorie soda intake and stroke risk should be interpreted with caution, because we previously did not find an association between low-calorie beverages and weight gain, diabetes, or CAD [coronary artery disease], and there is not a clear biologic mechanism between low-calorie soda consumption and incident stroke.” (Bernstein et al 2012)

This study does, however, agree with previous research that has shown that that consuming low-calorie sweeteners does not significantly affect insulin levels.

Low-calorie sweeteners are some of the most thoroughly studied food ingredients in the food supply. The safety of low-calorie sweeteners has been reaffirmed time and again by leading health and regulatory groups worldwide. For more information about low-calorie sweeteners, visit: For more expert opinions discussing this study, click here.

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Phelan, S et al. Use of artificial sweeteners and fat-modified foods in weight loss maintainers and always-normal weight individuals. International Journal of Obesity advance online publication 28 July 2009; doi: 10.1038/ijo.2009.147

For the International Journal of Obesity abstract, visit:

[ Facts about artificial sweetener Saccharin. ]