artificial sweeteners workplace wellness

Study Reviews Artificial Sweeteners and Healthy Habits

These are tough times for carbonated beverage lovers — and there may be a clear opportunity for well-run workplace wellness programs to help employees rethink what they drink.

Yesterday we reported how workplace wellness programs can help employees avoid sugar sweetened beverages. We noted a study  titled “Support for Food and Beverage Worksite Wellness Strategies and Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Intake Among Employed U.S. Adults” that states: “Sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) consumption is high among U.S. adults and is associated with obesity. Given that more than 100 million Americans consume food or beverages at work daily, the worksite may be a venue for interventions to reduce SSB consumption. However, the level of support for these interventions is unknown. We examined associations between workday SSB intake and employees’ support for worksite wellness strategies (WWSs).”

The conclusion: “Almost half of employees supported increasing healthy options within worksites, although daily workday SSB consumers were less supportive of certain strategies. Lack of support could be a potential barrier to the successful implementation of certain worksite interventions.”

However, replacing sugar sweetened beverages with ones containing artificial sweeteners might bring its own challenges.

The background for the study by Canadian researchers: “Nonnutritive sweeteners, such as aspartame, sucralose and stevioside, are widely consumed, yet their long-term health impact is uncertain. We synthesized evidence from prospective studies to determine whether routine consumption of non-nutritive sweeteners was associated with long-term adverse cardiometabolic effects.”

The results: “Evidence from RCTs does not clearly support the intended benefits of nonnutritive sweeteners for weight management, and observational data suggest that routine intake of nonnutritive sweeteners may be associated with increased BMI and cardiometabolic risk.”

In other words, as MedPage Today reports: “Artificial sweeteners don’t appear to have any significant effects on body mass index (BMI), according to a review and meta-analysis. In randomized controlled trials, these sweeteners had no effects on BMI, and in cohort studies, they were actually associated with a modest increase in BMI.”

MedPage Today adds that the researchers noted, however, “that these associations haven’t been confirmed in experimental studies and may be influenced by publication bias.”

For a well-run workplace wellness program, these posts from yesterday and today provide a new opportunity to increase discussion — and nutrition understanding — around sugar, sugar sweetened beverages, alternatives (like water), and other diet tips.