Food and beverage product developers are in a bind as they consider sweetener options. Perception of sugar by some consumers has shifted in a negative direction as the sweetener has been associated with obesity and many of the chronic conditions associated with obesity. The trend may be seen as an opportunity for the manufacturers of high-intensity sweeteners, but that category is facing perception problems as well.
A study published in the journal Stroke associated artificial sweetener consumption with the occurrence of strokes and dementia. The study, conducted by the Boston University School of Medicine and using data gathered through the Framingham Heart Study, found that consumers who drank diet soda daily were almost three times as likely to develop stroke and dementia when compared to those who did not consume diet soda.
Such groups as the International Food Information Council Foundation quickly responded to the research findings by noting it is based on observational findings and is not conclusive.
Ingredient manufacturers have noted the shift in consumer perceptions toward some sweeteners and are working to develop new options or minimize the negative attributes associated with others.