The FDA has approved the use of five artificial sweeteners as food additives, including aspartame, Ace-K and sucralose, as well as saccharin and neotame (better known as NutraSweet). Before each sweetener came to market, the FDA determined they were safe “well within acceptable daily intake levels,” said FDA spokeswoman Carla Daniels.
While some studies have shown that repeated exposure to low- and no-calorie sweeteners may lead to the development of preferences for sweet foods and beverages and high-calorie foods, and eventually lead to health complications associated with such a diet, that hasn’t slowed the market.
Diet soda is a rare sweet spot in the carbonated soft-drink business. Sales of soda overall have been declining in the U.S. since 2005 as consumers migrate to other types of bottled drinks, such as water and tea. In 2000, diet sodas made up 24.7 percent of the crowded $76 billion carbonated beverage market in the U.S. Driven by consumers’ demand for sweet drinks without the weight gain and tooth decay associated with 160-calories-per-can sugar versions, diet sodas now make up 29.1 percent of sales, according to John Sicher, editor and publisher of Beverage Digest in Medford Hills, N.Y.