Background

Non-nutritive sweeteners (NNS) are artificial or natural food products that contain no calories but which are 200 to 7,000 times sweeter than sucrose. NNS intake to provide a sweet taste is sometimes recommended by nutritional counselors to help bariatric patients decrease carbohydrate intake. Managing and monitoring intake requires recognition of the range of NNS that are present in the food stream. We investigated the preference for and pattern of intake of NNS in patients treated in a bariatric surgical center.

Methods

One hundred and seventy five surgical patients anonymously completed a survey assessing preference for, consumption of, and awareness of products containing NNS. The cohort included 34 who were pre-surgery and 141 post-surgery patients who underwent the following index procedures: laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding (LAGB; n=62), sleeve gastrectomy (SG; n=37), and Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RYGB; n=42).

Results

Of all patients surveyed, 56% reported using NNS at least once per day. Patients who had undergone bariatric surgery reported on a rating scale (0=never, 7=multiple times per day) higher frequency of NNS intake than those who had not had surgery (5.4± 0.2 vs. 4.3± 0.4;p=.016). Surgery type did not affect preference or frequency of intake. Among all patients, regardless of surgical status, women reported higher preference for NNS than men, 64% vs. 45%, respectively (p=0.05).

Conclusions

Patients who have undergone surgery use NNS more frequently than those who have not. Regardless of status, more women than men prefer to use NNS. These data may be important in the application of clinical recommendations regarding post-operative sweetener consumption. Additionally, we hope future research can help us understand to what extent and in which patients NNS use may facilitate weight loss in the bariatric population.