December 9, 2020

(Washington, D.C.) — A recently published study in the journal Molecules by Markus et al. attempted to evaluate the possible impact of stevia-based sweeteners on bacterial communication pathways through an in-vitro study, meaning it was not conducted in humans.  However, the study’s conclusions do not align with existing evidence backing the safety of stevia, which has been thoroughly reviewed by scientific and regulatory authorities all over the world including the United States Food and Drug Administration, European Food Safety Authority, Health Canada, as well as the World Health Organization.  A comprehensive study published in 2019 reviewing research on the effects of low- and no-calorie sweetener (LNCS) intake on the gut microbiome, including steviol glycosides, concluded that there is no clear evidence of adverse effects on the gut microbiome for LNCS consumption. While it is accurate that the composition of the human gut microbiota is influenced by many dietary factors, Markus, et al. show no evidence of adverse effects of stevia on human health.

Given that the current study was conducted in-vitro, it should be noted that the reported results are not applicable to real life scenarios nor normal dietary patterns or exposure. This distinction should be considered before conclusions are used to impact our broader understanding of the safety and benefits of stevia.  Further, the authors’ conclusions should not prevent nutrition and health professionals from feeling confident in recommending stevia to patients and consumers as an option for sweetening foods and beverages without added sugar or excess calories.  As we continue to address public health challenges such as diabetes and obesity, consumers should feel confident in the safety of products that contain low- and no- calorie sweeteners, including stevia.