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High Intensity Sweeteners: Science and Controversy


This funding is to support an international conference. The goals are to hold the conference and publish the proceedings.

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The topic of high intensity sweeteners (HIS) and health is not new, though interest is particularly high now and continues to grow. The resurgence in interests has stemmed largely from recent findings that sweet "taste" receptors are located throughout the body, include the GI tract where they are located on enteroendocrine cells. This has prompted rethinking about whether the various HIS, once considered inert, may actually exert important biological effects with a wide spectrum of health outcomes. The issue of high intensity sweeteners and health has been addressed in sessions at multiple scientific meetings. However, often only one side of the issue is presented. In other instances, opposing views are showcased. This is fine if the goal is to disseminate perspectives, but neither approach serves the purpose of critically reviewing the evidence and drawing reasoned, science-based conclusions. To achieve this end, it is necessary to move beyond presenters, to the science itself. This proposed conference is designed for that purpose. We propose to hold a highly structured international conference with invited presenters and discussants. The unique design of the program aims to highlight the state of the science stripped from hyperbole and innuendo. In addition to presentations related to the ecology of sweet taste, mechanisms of sweet taste and trends in high intensity sweetener use, the specific topics often linked to health concerns that will be considered are, HIS use and A) gut digestive, endocrine and absorptive function B) microbiota; C) brain reward pathways; and D) appetite, food intake and energy balance. Impressions of the science by all attending the meeting will be tracked with real-time computer polling. However, the greater impact of the meeting will likely be achieved through publication of the proceedings in a special issue of Physiology & Behavior (option already confirmed).The goal of the conference is to highlight the science related to the heal effects of HIS so that policy makers, clinicians and consumers can make informed decisions about their use.

Mattes, Richard D
Purdue University
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