Written by: Suzie Walker



Time to read 9 min

When the recent report about artificial sweeteners was released by The World Health Organisation, we at The Keto Collective weren’t surprised.

There's a reason we only use natural ingredients in our Keto Snacks!

But what exactly are artificial sweeteners? Why do they have such a controversial reputation? And what did The World Health Organisation report actually say?

Find out here!...

artificial sweeteners in drink

What are Artificial Sweeteners?

You know those sugar substitutes you've been using in your coffee and tea?

Those are artificial sweeteners. 

That can of Coke Zero you just polished off? Artificial Sweeteners.

The sweet mint toothpaste you used this morning? Artificial Sweeteners.

Yes, artificial sweeteners are EVERYWHERE!

These sweeteners are used as a way to provide sweetness without adding calories or affecting blood sugar levels.

There are several types of artificial sweeteners available, such as aspartame, saccharin, and sucralose. 

They can be found in loads of products that you use every single day.

While artificial sweeteners claim to have benefits such as aiding in weight loss by reducing calorie intake, that is now being called into question by the World Health Organisation…

no sugar

New The World Health Organization Study Findings

So, what about that new study by the World Health Organization (WHO) that raises concerns about the long-term health impacts of non-sugar sweeteners (NSS)?

The World Health Organization recently released new guidelines on non-sugar sweeteners that have sparked even more discussion around their safety and effectiveness. 

The study suggest that using these sweeteners does not assist long-term benefits in reducing body fat and may even increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and mortality for most people.

- The World Health Organisation (WHO)

In other words, they’re pretty much useless! And really bad for you!

This recommendation applies to all people except those with pre-existing diabetes and includes all synthetic and naturally occurring or modified non-nutritive sweeteners, such as: Acesulfame K, Aspartame, Advantame, Cyclamates, Neotame, Saccharin, Sucralose, Stevia

What Did The World Health Organisation Discover About Artificial Sweeteners?

The study found that using NSS for weight control or reducing the risk of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) doesn't confer any long-term benefit in reducing body fat in adults or children! Wow!

The WHO guideline on non-sugar sweeteners discovered that their long-term use may actually increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and mortality in adults!

This has led to a recommendation against using NSS for weight control or reducing the risk of NCDs.

As consumers, it's important to be aware of the risks associated with artificial sweeteners. If you haven’t considered reducing your use of these ingredients, then it may be a good time to start.

Here are some key takeaways from the WHO guideline:

  • Replacing free sugars with NSS does not help with weight control in the long term.

  • People should consider consuming food with naturally occurring sugars, like fruit, or unsweetened food and beverages instead.

  • Artificial Sweeteners are not essential dietary factors and have no nutritional value.

  • Focus on reducing the sweetness of your diet completely, from early age.

It's clear to us at The Keto Collective that more consumer education is needed when it comes to artificial sweeteners and their long-term effects on our health. It seems that the public still considers using these artificial sweeteners as ‘a healthier option’, when in reality they may actually be damaging the health of the users!

So which sweeteners are cause for concern? 

Let's explore this further in the next section.

Aspartame and Sucrose

What is This New Report Concerning Aspartame and Cancer? [June 2023]

Aspartame is reportedly on the verge of being labeled as a possible cancer-causing agent by the World Health Organization’s cancer research agency, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).

This means that there is some more solid evidence that aspartame may increase the risk of cancer in humans and animals!

Is this the end for Diet Coke and Pepsi Max?

However, this decision by the IARC has been disputed by other authorities, such as the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), who have declared that aspartame is safe and does not cause cancer. 

They have also dismissed a study by an Italian laboratory, the Ramazzini Institute, which claimed that aspartame caused various types of cancer in rats. 

The IARC’s classification of aspartame has sparked a debate among experts, who have different views on the safety and benefits of aspartame. Some experts support the IARC’s decision and urge people to avoid or ban aspartame, while others criticise the IARC’s decision and argue that aspartame is a useful option for people who want to cut down on sugar.

Whilst the IARC’s classification of aspartame is not a final judgment on its cancer-causing potential, we would recommend our readers and customers to keep away from these artificial sweeteners. 

Our stance has never changed! 

We don't trust these artificial sweeteners, and that is why our Keto Collective products are completely natural!

Which Artificial Sweeteners are a Concern?

Let's take a closer look at which artificial sweeteners have raised concerns and why, so you can make informed decisions about your diet.

The WHO mention the following artificial sweeteners in their study:

  • Acesulfame K
  • Aspartame
  • Advantame
  • Cyclamates
  • Neotame
  • Saccharin
  • Sucralose
  • Stevia

That pretty much covers all of the major sweeteners that line the shelves in supermarkets around the world!

We have to add that The WHO did state that low-calorie sugars and sugar alcohols (polyols) were fine to use. So make sure not to throw out these alternatives with the rest of the 'bad' sweeteners above.

And this isn’t the first time that these sweeteners have been put under the microscope, with many questioning their effectiveness. 

But not only are the scientists worried about NSS not helping with weight loss, but as you will find our later, they may also actually damage your health as well!..

artificial sweetners in powder form

Hold On! Aren't Sweeteners Supposed to HELP Me Lose Weight?

This brings us to an important question: aren't sweeteners supposed to help people lose weight?

Maybe you hope to shed some pounds by using sugar substitutes, but not seeing any results? Unfortunately, the idea that consuming sweeteners can help with weight loss has now confirmed a myth.

In fact, these recent studies have shown that artificial sweeteners may actually lead to weight gain!

One reason for this could be the impact on the gut microbiome - the trillions of microorganisms in our digestive system that affect our metabolism and immune system. Now we know that consuming artificial sweeteners can disrupt the balance of these microorganisms, leading to negative health outcomes.

Another factor is the psychological effects of consuming sugar substitutes. By choosing foods or drinks labeled 'diet' or 'low-calorie', we may feel like we are making healthier choices and therefore give ourselves permission to indulge in other unhealthy foods. This phenomenon is known as 'compensation behavior', where people overeat because they think they have saved calories elsewhere. 

This is now debunked completely!

So if you are trying to lose weight, don’t grab a bottle of diet soda, its going to hurt your efforts!

What Will Happen Now This Study Has Been Published?

So what exactly will happen now this study has been published?

Well… probably nothing, at least for a while. 

Reading this, you are probably in the minority of people around the globe who even knows the results of this study. It will take years, if not decades, for the rest of the world to wake up to these alarming conclusions.

We struggle to see quick progress and action being taken from all the companies profiteering from these sugar alternatives. Can you see Diet Coke being pulled from the shelves? 

Me neither.

Policy implications and industry response will play a role in shaping consumer behavior. It remains to be seen how this study will impact policies around the use of non-sugar sweeteners. 

Some countries may choose to regulate their use more strictly, while others may continue to allow them with warnings about potential risks. The food industry may also respond by reformulating products with fewer artificial sweeteners, but it will be a slow response.

Ultimately, it's up to individuals to educate themselves and make choices that align with their health goals. While they may seem like a healthier alternative to sugar, there are potential long-term risks associated with frequent consumption. 

It's important for individuals (YOU!) to be aware of these risks and make informed choices about what they consume.

Now that you know about the potential risks of using non-sugar sweeteners, consider making a conscious effort to reduce your intake and opt for naturally occurring sugars or unsweetened foods and beverages instead.

While following a very clean Keto Diet, you are best sticking with water, black coffee, and tea.

Say goodbye to unnaturally sweetened canned drinks!

artificial sweeteners with 3 spoons

Can Artificial Sweeteners Cause Other Health Problems?

In addition to concerns about metabolic health, some experts worry that artificial sweeteners may have addictive properties that contribute to unhealthy eating behaviors. 

Because they lack nutritional value, they may leave people feeling unsatisfied and craving more food in search of a satisfying taste. This can lead to overeating and weight gain, which can further increase the risk of metabolic health problems.

One of the major concerns is stevia, a natural sweetener that has gained popularity in the past 15 to 20 years. Stevia is derived from a plant and that may seem like a healthier alternative to other artificial sweeteners, but some studies have suggested potential health implications.

Research has linked long-term consumption of stevia to changes in gut microbiota and negative effects on insulin sensitivity. There are serious concerns about the processing methods used to extract sweet compounds from the plant and the potential impact on overall health.

Aspartame and Acesulfame-K have both been linked to an increased risk of cancer. A study from France which used a huge sample size of over 100,000 people found that these sweeteners were especially related to breast cancer and obesity-related cancers.

Harold H. Hines, Jr. Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology and Public Health at Yale University School of Medicine, and one of the world's leading cardiologists declared that he would never drink diet soda again after discovering the negative effects that artificial sweeteners had on his health!

So next time you pick up that dodgy keto bar loaded with crappy ingredients and NO SUGAR, think twice!

Despite their appeal as a low-calorie alternative to sugar, it's clear that artificial sweeteners are not without their potential downsides. 

As we continue to learn more about their effects on our bodies, it's important for individuals to weigh the pros and cons carefully before incorporating them into their diets on a regular basis.

Ultimately, prioritizing whole foods and natural sources of sweetness such as fruit may be the best way to ensure optimal overall health.

Do Artificial Sweeteners Raise Blood Sugar Levels? And What About Insulin Levels?

Another major worry for Keto followers drinking soda loaded with these sweeteners: Are artificial sweeteners spiking our blood sugar levels?

While artificial sweeteners like aspartame, saccharin, and sucralose are marketed as a healthier alternative to the soaring blood sugar levels provided by ‘original’ versions of their favourite beverage, recent studies suggest show the exact opposite.

These ‘diet’ drinks are spiking your blood sugar levels and making you insulin resistant!

These findings raise concerns about the impact of artificial sweeteners on diabetes management. Especially as so many patients use these drinks as a ‘healthy’ alternative.

Individuals who consume large amounts of artificially-sweetened products may actually have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes!

In light of these findings, it's advisable for people who consume large amounts of artificial sweeteners to be mindful of their long-term impact on metabolic health. Over-reliance on them as a sugar substitute could have unintended consequences.

sweeteners in bowl

Finally, On Artificial Sweetners…

Sorry, but if you are serious about your long-term health, you must cut these artificial sweeteners out of your diet, and life.


For decades these artificial sweeteners have been advertised as a safe, calorie-free alternative to sugar. This is now over.

You are best avoiding artificial sweeteners entirely.

It's important to note that not all natural sweeteners are problematic - some options like honey or maple syrup can offer nutritional benefits when consumed in moderation. While these ingredients aren’t Keto friendly, they ARE healthy. And if you have to indulge your sweet tooth, it would be better for you to go with these over a can of artificial lab-made chemicals!

As for artificial sweeteners, the fact is, they don't really provide any long-term benefits in reducing body fat and may even increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and mortality. Not to mention the havoc they put on the gut microbiome!

So stay away from them altogether!

Suzie Walker - Keto Collective

Suzie Walker

Suzie Walker is a qualified Nutritional Therapist from the College of Naturopathic Nutrition London and co-founded The Keto Collective, a company that aims to make it easier for those following the keto way of eating to find whole food, great tasting, keto alternatives to their everyday favorites.

Suzie is a passionate believer in the power of the ketogenic diet and has researched the many health benefits of low-carb living.

Her goal is to bring keto to the masses and take it mainstream.