Diet Carbonated Soft Drinks and Low or No Kilojoule Sweeteners

There are a number of artificial sweeteners that are permitted to be used in soft drinks. By far, the most popular artificial sweetener currently being used is aspartame. Aspartame is about 200 times sweeter than sugar, so very little is needed to sweeten a soft drink. Aspartame is a combination of two amino acids (the building block of proteins), aspartic acid and phenylalanine. Both these amino acids are found naturally in protein-containing foods, including meats, grains and dairy products. Other artificial sweeteners permitted by Food Standards Australia New Zealand are acesulphame potassium or Ace-K, thaumatin, saccharin, cyclamate and sucaralose.

Beverages sweetened with non-nutritive sweeteners have a minute amount of kilojoules and create the diet or light versions of carbonated soft drinks. If sugar substitutes are used, such as aspartame or saccharin, consumers can be assured they have gone though large scale studies to validate safety, and have gained approval from regulatory industries worldwide, including the Australian food regulator FSANZ. For more information on the regulation of non-nutritive sweetener please see our news room section.

Diet soft drinks help individuals reduce their intake of kilojoules and sugar while still enjoying the taste and refreshment of a carbonated soft drink. When consumed properly diet beverages can be a catalyst for a healthy lifestyle, and sugar substitutes can help those with diabetes or those who want to control their weight stick to a healthy diet.
Studies have shown that whether people drink water or soft drinks with artificial sweeteners, there is no difference in how satisfied they feel afterward.(1) In fact, low-kilojoule sweeteners have been shown to help reduce appetite and food cravings in some consumers by satisfying the taste for sweetness without providing the additional kilojoules from sugar. For more information on these sugar substitutes specifically, please see our consumer fact sheets and our news room.

References:
1. De La Hunty, A., Gibson, S. and Ashwell, M. (2006), A review of the effectiveness of aspartame in helping with weight control. Nutrition Bulletin, 31: 115–128;