The Dr. Oz Show Gets It Wrong About Low Calorie Sweeteners, According to Calorie Control Council

Inaccuracies on Links to Weight Gain and Exaggerated Consumption Levels Are Misleading to the Public

Sep 27, 2013, 12:31 ET from Calorie Control Council

ATLANTA, Sept. 27, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Today's segment of The Dr. Oz Show claiming low calorie sweeteners cause weight gain was not based on scientific facts and made gross exaggerations when depicting average consumer use of sweeteners, according to the Calorie Control Council, whose members include manufacturers and end users of low and reduced calorie sweeteners and other ingredients.

Registered dietitian and nutrition expert Robyn Flipse had this to say when interviewed by The Skinny on Low Cal, Calorie Control Council's blog. (Video interview available here.) "What I have seen in my 35 years of clinical practice is that low calorie sweeteners do help people control their weight when they are used along with a balanced diet and regular exercise. But, low calorie sweeteners are only one tool – And unfortunately, not all consumers of diet drinks and low calorie sweeteners are living a healthy lifestyle."

"Dr. Oz likely was referring to the latest flawed opinion piece to make headlines, rather than focusing on the sound body of science that exists when it comes to the safety and quality of low calorie sweeteners," said Haley Curtis Stevens, Ph.D. of the Calorie Control Council (CCC).  "Numerous studies in humans have shown that the consumption of low-calorie sweeteners does not lead to an increase in feelings of hunger or body weight."

Further, research shows that low-calorie sweeteners do not lead to heart disease, diabetes or obesity as was suggested on the program. According to leading health organizations such as the American Diabetes Association, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the American Heart Association, low-calorie sweeteners can be used as part of an overall healthy eating plan. Experts agree that excess weight contributes to heart disease and diabetes, not sugar substitutes.

Show Segment Based on Opinion, Rather than Empirical Studies
As Dr. Stevens noted, Oz is likely referencing recent claims that eating low calorie sweeteners leads to cravings and weight gain. However, the claims ignore the large body of robust scientific research that demonstrates the safety and benefits of low-calorie sweeteners (including studies as recent as 2012 published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and the Journal of Nutrition – for more, click here for studies). "I am surprised that Dr. Oz would present the claims as fact," said Stevens. (See CCC's original statement about the claims.)

Annual Consumption Levels Exaggerated
Another misrepresentation during the show concerns the discussion regarding the use of sugar substitutes. People use, on average, less than one pound a year of low-calorie sweeteners.  (Infographic available here re: low calorie sweetener consumption) However, Dr. Oz inaccurately depicted a 24-lb average annual consumption of low calorie sweeteners by making the assumption that consumers replace sugar with a sugar substitute in a 1-to-1 ratio. Because sugar substitutes are intensely sweet (150 to 600 times as sweet), requiring very small amounts to attain the same level of sweetness,  they are not added to products at the same level as sugar, an erroneous assumption made by Dr. Oz. 

Other Experts Took Issue
According to Dr. John Fernstrom, Professor of Psychiatry and Pharmacology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, "Intervention studies have been conducted over the past few decades, and uniformly show that when artificial sweeteners are introduced into the diet (usually in a "blinded" fashion, so the subjects don't know it), fewer sugars and calories are ingested, and body fat content and body weight are reduced. Low calorie sweeteners by themselves do not make people fat (or diabetic). When overweight or diabetic individuals report consuming more products containing artificial sweeteners, it may be that these products are being consumed to reduce sugar and calorie intake (a good thing), and not the other way around."  (Photo of Dr. Fernstrom)

About the Calorie Control Council
The Calorie Control Council, established in 1966, is an international association representing the low- and reduced-calorie food and beverage industry. Today it represents manufacturers and suppliers of low- and reduced-calorie foods and beverages, including manufacturers and suppliers of more than two dozen different alternative sweeteners, fibers and other low-calorie, dietary ingredients.  For helpful tips on weight loss and controlling calories, along with tools and truths on healthy eating and exercise for life, visit the Council's main website at or the Council's blog at


Video with caption: "Registered dietitian and nutrition expert Robyn Flipse debunks claims that sweeteners cause cravings and weight gain. SOURCE: The Calorie Control Council". Video available at:

Image with caption: "The Truth About Low Calorie Sweetener Consumption: Contrary to The Dr. Oz Show claim, consumers actually use less than one pound per year of low calorie sweeteners. SOURCE: The Calorie Control Council." Image available at:

Image with caption: "Dr. John Fernstrom, Professor of Psychiatry and Pharmacology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine looked to intervention studies showing lower calorie intake and weight loss as the results when low calorie sweeteners were introduced into diets. SOURCE: The Calorie Control Council." Image available at:

SOURCE Calorie Control Council