Consumption of low-calorie sweetened drinks is associated with 'sweet satiation', but not with 'sweet-taste confusion': A virtual study

Angelica M Monge, Danielle Ferriday, Simon Heckenmueller, Jeffrey M Brunstrom, Peter J Rogers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Originating from studies on rats, the 'taste confusion' hypothesis predicts that exposure to low-calorie sweeteners (LCS) will impair compensatory responses to sugar intake, resulting in increased overall calorie intake. We conducted a virtual study in which young adult human participants (n = 332), who differed in their history of exposure to sweet drinks (e.g., drank 'diet' (LCS) soft drinks or 'regular' (sugar-sweetened) soft drinks), imagined consuming a cheese sandwich and two-thirds of a 500 ml drink (still water, sparkling water, diet Coca Cola, regular Coca Cola, or semi-skimmed milk), or no drink, as a hypothetical lunch-time meal. They then used a screen-based tool to select the amount of a sweet snack (chocolate M&M's) or savoury snack (salted peanuts) that they would eat immediately with the remaining third of their drink (i.e., a total of 12 drink and snack combinations per participant). The results were inconsistent with the predictions of the taste confusion hypothesis; specifically, the extent to which consumption of sugar cola compared with water (still or sparkling) reduced snack intake did not differ between habitual diet (LCS) and habitual sugar soft-drink consumers. Other results showed a 'sweet satiation' effect (i.e., lower sweet versus savoury snack intake when the drink accompanying the meal was sweet compared with when it was water), and negligible compensation in snack food intake for the difference in the energy content of diet versus sugar cola.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106273
Early online date10 Aug 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 10 Aug 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was funded by the School of Psychological Science, University of Bristol, UK . This funder played no direct role in influencing the nature of the research or the decision to submit the article for publication.

Funding Information:
PJR has received funding for research from Sugar Nutrition UK, provided consultancy services for Coca-Cola Great Britain, and received speaker's fees from the Global Stevia Research Institute, ILSI-Brasil, ILSI-Europe, ILSI-India and the International Sweeteners Association, and other support from industry for travel expenses for workshops and conferences where he presented research on sugar and low-calorie sweeteners. The other authors declare that they have no potential conflict of interests in relation to this research.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Elsevier Ltd

Structured keywords

  • Nutrition and Behaviour
  • Physical and Mental Health


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