1George Washington University, Washington DC, United States, 2University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, United States, 3University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, United States, 4University of Campinas, Campinas, Brazil.
Introduction: Replacing added sugars for non-sugar sweeteners (NSS) in beverages is a widely known food reformulation strategy to reduce added sugars in the food supply. In the light of the adverse effects of NSS, the extent to what such changes are happening deserves further investigation. This study investigated changes in the use of NSS in beverages launched in five countries in South and North America over the last 11 years. Methods: We used commercial data from 64,374 beverages provided by the Mintel Global New Products Database. We identified foods and beverages with NSS and added sugars using the list of ingredients. We ran country- and year-fixed effect models to investigate the yearly changes in the prevalence of beverages with NSS (artificial or natural nonnutritive sweeteners and sugar alcohols) launched in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, and the United States between 2010 and 2021. Results: The overall prevalence of beverages with NSS launched over the last decade had a significant increase of 8.6 percentage points (p.p.) between 2010 (20.1%) and 2021 (28.7%). Sharpest increases were observed in Brazil (13.5 p.p.) and Mexico (12.5 p.p.). The prevalence of products with NSS decreased in Argentina and rose by 7 p.p. in the USA. We observed the largest increase in the prevalence of NSS in beverage mixes, carbonated soft drinks, dairy beverages, nectars, energy and sport drinks across all studied countries. Conclusion: We found increased use of NSS in beverages sold in the Americas in the last decade. Continuous monitoring of the prevalence of NSS is critical, particularly in the presence of strategies that may lead to further increases in the use of these additives.
Keywords: sweeteners; food additives; nutritional labeling.