Research Priorities for Studies Linking Intake of Low Calorie Sweeteners and Potentially Related Health Outcomes

Background: In a world of finite research funding, efforts to prioritize future research topics are increasingly necessary. Objective: To identify and prioritize the direction of future research in the broad area of low-calorie sweeteners (LCSs) intake and potentially related health outcomes using a novel method that incorporated evidence mapping in the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)’s Future Research Needs (FRN) process. Methods: A diverse expert stakeholder panel was convened and engaged to identify research gaps and prioritize future research needs. An independent research team hosted a number of interactive webinars and elicited feedback through surveys and individual interviews with the stakeholder panel, including policymakers, lay audience members, health providers, a research funder, individuals with food industry experience, and researchers of several different specialties. Results: The stakeholder panel generated and ranked a list of 18 FRN questions across five broad research areas. Overall, stakeholder panel members unanimously agreed the research questions that will have the largest public health impact are those that address outcomes related to body weight, appetite, and dietary intake. Though the LCSs included in this FRN project have all been GRAS by the FDA or approved as food additives, the recurrent concerns and confusions regarding the “safety” of LCSs by consumers underscore the importance of communicating the science to the general public. Conclusions: Our project provides evidence that engaging a diverse expert stakeholder panel is an effective method of translating gaps in nutrition research into prioritized areas of future research.

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Citation: Bright OJM, Wang DD, Shams White M et al. Curr Dev Nutr June 2017, cdn.117.000547; DOI:

This work was supported by the ILSI North America Low-Calorie Sweeteners Committee. Learn more about ILSI North America’s work and commitment to Scientific Integrity.