Dietary Sweetness & Body Weight: What Do We Know and Where Do We Go From Here?
Virtual, Event
April 20, 2023
10:00 am – 11:00 am

Numerous governmental and health organizations recommend reduced intake of added sugars due to the health risks associated with excess energy intake, including the risk of weight gain and obesity. Some organizations further recommend avoiding dietary sweetness, regardless of the source, as sweetness is hypothesized to promote a desire for sweet taste, leading to increased energy intake. Recently, a scoping review and evidence map, funded by IAFNS, were published, characterizing the research that investigated associations between dietary sweetness and body weight. The aim of this work was to identify, and map published studies that have investigated total dietary sweetness, sweet food/beverages, sugar, or sweetener intake, and body weight–related outcomes and/or energy intake. Authors found that although there is a breadth of evidence from studies that have investigated associations between intakes of sweet foods and beverages, sugars, and sweeteners and body weight, there is a limited depth of evidence on the association between total dietary sweetness and body weight. Development of taste databases that characterize the sensory attributes of commonly consumed foods and beverages was one of few methods implemented to systematically evaluate dietary sweetness exposure from the entire diet.

This webinar presents the outcomes of the evidence map and scoping review and a high-level overview of the development, methodology and validation of Taste Databases. It includes the results of studies that relate dietary sweetness exposure to body weight in two Dutch populations. Speakers also provide an overview of the methodology of a new study on the long-term effect of low, regular, and high dietary sweetness exposure on sweetness preference and metabolic measures. Finally, evidence gaps, and future research needed to more conclusively answer this important question on the relationship between dietary sweetness and weight are discussed.


Kelly Higgins, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Beltsville, Maryland

Kees De Graaf, Division of Human Nutrition and Health, Wageningen University, Wageningen, The Netherlands

CDR Performance Indicators:

6.2 Collects and interprets research data to advance knowledge and practice, and to enhance effectiveness of services.

6.4 Engages in scholarly activities through critical inquiry, continuous learning, application of evidence to practice, and support of research activities.

8.1 Interprets and applies current food and nutrition science in nutrition and dietetics practice.

1.0 CPEUs are provided to CDR credentialed practitioners.


A recording of the event is available here.