Sucralose is the most widely used artificial sweetener in the United States. Most commonly sold under the brand name Splenda, the chemical is used in over 6,000 food products. It is often found in “diet” sodas including Diet Coke with Splenda, Diet Pepsi with Splenda, as well as Gatorade’s Propel Water, low-calorie Kool-Aid, Atkins Diet products, and other low-calorie foods and drinks.
Sucralose is 600 times sweeter than sugar and itself contains no calories. Although it has been marketed as a healthy product that can help fend off obesity and diabetes, sucralose consumption has been linked to leukemia, weight gain, obesity, diabetes, liver inflammation, metabolic dysfunction and other illnesses.
Sucralose backers have also claimed it is poorly absorbed and does not significantly bioaccumulate in the human body. However, a 2018 study found that sucralose metabolizes and bioaccumulates in rats. Based on this recent science, U.S. Right to Know petitioned the Federal Trade Commission to investigate deceptive advertising claims by Tate & Lyle and Coca-Cola.
Key Facts About sucralose
- In May 2023, the World Health Organization advised people not to consume non-sugar sweeteners, including sucralose, for weight loss.The recommendation is based on a systematic review of the most current scientific evidence, which suggests that consumption of non-sugar sweeteners is associated with increased risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and all-cause mortality, as well as increased body weight.
- The Food and Drug Administration approved sucralose for use in 1998 in 15 food categories, and a year later approved it as a general purpose sweetener. It was the fastest shift in FDA’s history from a specified usage to general purpose approval of an artificial sweetener.
- Of the over 100 studies FDA reviewed at the time, none involved humans, only three lasted more than a year, and many of them were not even published for public scrutiny.
- Subsequent studies, including longitudinal ones involving human populations, have linked sucralose to a range of health problems. FDA has not reevaluated its authorization with the current science.
- FDA’s 1998 authorization claims that “sucralose is relatively poorly absorbed” into the body. Recent science casts doubt on that claim (see USRTK petition to FTC ).
- In a 2008 interview conducted by the FDA with Alan Rulis, former FDA director of the Office of Food Additive Safety, Rulis stated that, “We discovered, way too late in the process, I think, that there was an unresolved issue that had to do with the test animals in some studies showing a more-than expected body-weight-gain decrement while on sucralose dosing.”
- Food Chemical News reported that, in 1995, McNeil Nutritionals — a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary and marketer of sucralose as branded Splenda — had planned to submit its product approval application. But, “in the process of completing a six-month clinical study in diabetic patients…[t]hat study raised concerns about the effect of sucralose on blood sugar in those individuals, and McNeil asked the agency to withhold its final decision until additional work could be done.”
What is sucralose and who owns it?
Sucralose is synthesized by chlorinating the sugar sucrose, by substituting three hydroxyl groups with chlorine atoms. Its chemical structure can be seen below….