Keynote: Susan Swithers

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Abstract

Escalating rates of obesity along with public health messages to reduce excessive sugar intake have fuelled the consumption of high-intensity, non-nutritive sweeteners under the assumption that they will lead to better health outcomes. However, a variety of evidence raises concerns that regular consumption of such sweeteners might actually contribute to development of metabolic derangements that lead to obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. I will discuss data from our laboratory and others demonstrating in human and rodent models that non-nutritive sweeteners may not only promote food intake and weight gain, but can also induce metabolic alterations. As a result, non-nutritive sweeteners could have the counterintuitive effect of increasing risk of overweight, obesity and attendant negative health outcomes.

About Susan Swithers

Susie Swithers is a Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of Psychological Sciences. She holds degrees from the University of Virginia (B.A.) and Duke University (Ph.D.). Her research program focuses on the roles of development, experience, and learning on behavioral, physiological and neural systems contributing to the regulation of food intake, metabolism, and obesity-related health outcomes. She is a recognized authority on the effects of non-nutritive sweeteners on obesity and metabolic outcomes. Her work has been funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIDDK, NICHD and NHLIB) and she has served on a variety of NIH study sections, including chairing the chartered BRLE study section for 2 years.