This report summarises a workshop convened by ILSI Europe on 3rd and 4th April 2017 to discuss the issue of dietary sweetness. The objectives were to understand the roles of sweetness in the diet; establish whether exposure to sweetness affects diet quality and energy intake; and consider whether sweetness per se affects health. Although there may be evidence for tracking of intake of some sweet components of the diet through childhood, evidence for tracking of whole diet sweetness, or through other stages of maturity are lacking. The evidence to date does not support adverse effects of sweetness on diet quality or energy intake, except where sweet food choices increase intake of free sugars. There is some evidence for improvements in diet quality and reduced energy intake where sweetness without calories replaces sweetness with calories. There is a need to understand the physiological and metabolic relevance of sweet taste receptors on the tongue, in the gut and elsewhere in the body, as well as possible differentiation in the effects of sustained consumption of individual sweeteners. Despite a plethora of studies, there is no consistent evidence for an association of sweetness sensitivity/preference with obesity or type 2 diabetes. A multifaceted integrated approach, characterising nutritive and sensory aspects of the whole diet or dietary patterns, may be more valuable in providing contextual insight. The outcomes of the workshop could be used as a scientific basis to inform the expert community and create more useful dialogue among health care professionals.
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