The Effect of Artificial Sweeteners (AFS) on Sweetness Sensitivity, Preference and Brain Response in Adolescents

2015-07-17 10:38:24 | BioPortfolio


The purpose of this study is to investigate the effects of dietary exposure to artificial sweeteners on taste sensitivity, preference and brain response in adolescents. The investigators hypothesize that dietary exposure to artificial sweeteners (sucralose) will decrease sensitivity to taste, shift preference of sweet and savory taste to a higher dose, and reduce brain response in amygdala to sweet taste compared to sucrose.


We aim to identify neural factors that contribute to taste intensity perception in humans and to determine environmental mechanisms that contribute to variation in taste sensitivity. Significant controversy surrounds the possibility that consumption of artificial sweeteners (AFS) leads to weight gain. Given that the five FDA approved AFSs are found in thousands of foods (Yang 2010) this marks a clear and significant gap in knowledge. Our preliminary data demonstrate a 3-fold decrease in sweet taste sensitivity following consumption of a beverage sweetened with two packets of Splenda for just 10 days. These data provide strong evidence that repeated exposure to sucralose reduces perception of sweet taste intensity, most likely by down-regulation of the sweet taste receptor. Adolescents may be more sensitive to exposure to AFS because of changes in metabolism during this period of development. Physiologic insulin resistance occurs during adolescence (Moran, Jacobs et al. 1999); this change in insulin sensitivity may predispose adolescents to greater impairments in sweet taste intensity by altering the relationship between sweet taste and post-ingestive reward, as suggested by the Davidson and Swithers model (Davidson and Swithers 2004). Therefore, it is imperative that we gain a greater understanding of the physiological consequences of AFS use in adolescents, since alterations in sweet taste perception, metabolism and brain reward that occur in response to AFS exposure may promote weight gain.

Study Design

Allocation: Randomized, Intervention Model: Factorial Assignment, Masking: Double Blind (Subject, Investigator), Primary Purpose: Basic Science


Insulin Resistance


Sucralose, Sucrose, Sucralose + maltodextrin


The John B. Pierce Laboratory
New Haven
United States




Yale University

Results (where available)

View Results


Published on BioPortfolio: 2015-07-17T10:38:24-0400

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