The Sweet and the Sour of Artificial Sweeteners

Artificial Sweeteners

Recently there has been some controversy around the addition of artificial sweeteners to our milk products as well as the removal of labeling calling milk "reduced calorie".  All the hub-bub and controversy falls around the International Diary Foods Association (IDFA) and the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) filing a petition with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to amend the current regulations in order to allow the use of non-nutritive sweeteners, including aspartame, and the removal of "reduced calorie" labels so milk will be more appealing to the market.

What do you think about this? 

From the industry standpoint, the desire to use non-nutritive sweeteners is appealing because they are lower in cost, they minimize additional caloric intake and there have been some studies to cite their addictive nature.  The removal of the "reduced calorie" labeling further supports their bottom line to increase sales, as their argument is that something with the above label makes those items less desirable to young children, whom are their target consumers.

From a consumer standpoint, this is an outrageous request. It seems to promote teaching our kids to choose things that are further from the pure food source (what mother nature gave us to consume) and that sweeter is better, especially when it has less calories than the real food (plain sugar).  Due to this, it could also would limit the discrimination and self-control we need to be teaching our kids from day one and create additions to fake food, which in turn increases health risks such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity, metabolic syndrome and overall poor-self esteem and depression. 

Take a look at these statistics from Harvard's leading Health Blog:

"Participants in the San Antonio Heart Study who drank more than 21 diet drinks per week were twice as likely to become overweight or obese as people who didn’t drink diet soda."

" In the Multiethnic Study of Atherosclerosis, daily consumption of diet drinks was associated with a 36% greater risk for metabolic syndrome and a 67% increased risk for type 2 diabetes."

"In studies of rats who were exposed to cocaine, then given a choice between intravenous cocaine or oral saccharine, most chose saccharin."

You read those quotations correctly. The use of non-nutritive sweeteners to make your food lower calorie actually can be tied to the increase of the same diseases that the industry is claiming to try to avoid. Plus, highly illegal substances (cocaine) are shown to be less addictive than one of the non-nutritive sweeteners they are petitioning to be able to use, saccharin. The chemical release of dopamine and other neurotransmitters promoted by the fake sugars create a mini-high in the body (note, real food does this too but gives us the calories to stay satiated and not need to grab another dose). The more we are exposed to that high, the more we want it to continue. The more we give in to that want, the higher the potential caloric intake. 

What ever happened to farm-to-table and the idea of giving our kids real food? Why the need to add on additional ingredients and make things more appealing? The more we alter the sources, the more confused our physiological responses will be because we literally are changing the feedback loops in our bodies to enhance the temporary "high" of a fake substance. If they wanted to add cocaine back into substances, would there even be a debate? I didn't even start to brush the number of countries that have these substances banned for the health of their people due to animal studies linking theses substances to certain cancers...we'll save that for another time.

All in all, this makes me believe that the dairy industry is hurting and in order to boost and save profits the IDFA and NMPF wish to be able to use cheaper resources and get their market literally addicted to their products. 

I think I'll go have a glass of water.