The SWEET New Investigators Group was initiated to develop and improve collaboration between the early career professionals in EU H2020 Project SWEET, which investigates the long-term benefits and potential risks of using sweeteners and sweetness enhancers to support health. Across 2021-22, the New Investigators Group have convened monthly online to share knowledge, exchange ideas, and discuss novel research findings observed as part of SWEET.

Below is a summary of New Investigators meetings and activities through 10 November, 2022

July 2021: The New Investigators Group launched with an introductory online meeting in which members from across Europe summarised their respective SWEET roles and research

August 2021: Dominic O’Connor (PhD student) discussed a systematic review examining the effects of high-intensity sweeteners versus sugar and/or water on appetite, food reward or body-related outcomes. Dominic also outlined a randomised cross-over trial developed to investigate the acute and medium-term effects of sweetener-containing products on sweet food preferences and factors contributing to weight management

September 2021: Lisa Heggie (PhD student) presented on nutritive and non-nutritive sweeteners and their associations with weight and food preferences in children. As part of this, Lisa discussed her large systematic review investigating free sugar and non-nutritive sweetener intake and adiposity development and preference for sweet taste in childhood, as well as free sugar and sweetener estimation methodologies used within nutritional epidemiological studies

October 2021: Marion Buso (PhD student) discussed a large observational study of sweetened beverage intake and associations with weight in Dutch adults, using data from the Lifelines Cohort study. Marion also presented a meta-analysis investigating the prospective associations between sugar-sweetened and low- and no-calorie sweetened beverage intake and body weight in five European population studies, before discussing the evaluation of sweetener intake by food frequency questionnaire against 24-hour recalls and urinary biomarkers in the NQplus study

November 2021: Dr Hana Mušinović (Food and Nutrition Researcher, EuroFIR), presented FoodEXplorer, which collates harmonised food composition data from 39 countries and explained why these datasets are important in understanding food, nutrition, and health. In SWEET, EuroFIR is involved in the analysis of sweeteners and sweetness enhancers using life cycle sustainability assessment to determine whether increasing use of these offers a sustainable pathway to promote healthy diets, reduce obesity, and deliver improved food security. Food composition data and supporting information heavily inform this work

January 2022: After a break over the winter period, the New Investigators Group reconvened to share research plans for the coming year

February 2022: Sabina Stoffer Hjorth Andersen (PhD student) presented on a SWEET sub-study which investigated the prolonged effects of sweeteners and sweetness enhancers on postprandial substrate oxidation, energy expenditure and appetite sensation

March 2022: Dr Eirini Botsi gave an overview of a SWEET research trial which investigated the unknown long-term effects of sweeteners and sweetness enhancers on body weight, as well as their safety via multicenter randomized controlled trial

April 2022: Naomi Novita (PhD student) presented on the association between sweetened beverages and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and metabolic syndrome

May 2022: Dr Corey Scott (Work Package 1 leader) joined as a guest speaker to share insight and discuss experience as an industry scientist, including information on the day-to-day work duties that can be expected in industry and the skills needed to be an effective industry scientist that may or may not be developed as a PhD student

June 2022: The New Investigators Group met in person for the first time at the SWEET Summer School in San Sebastián, Spain

July 2022: Michelle Pang (PhD student) presented on the relevance of investigating the effects of low-calorie sweetener consumption on weight and metabolic health, as well as the pharmacokinetics of different low-calorie sweeteners and their known and unknown pathways which might affect these outcomes. Michelle had previously been invited to present this research at the 82nd Scientific Session of the American Diabetes Association

October 2022: Jacco Bastings (PhD student) presented on a SWEET sub-study based in Maastricht, which includes a subgroup of participants involved in a SWEET long-term intervention study investigating sweetener intake and weight loss. The sub-study aims to determine the effects of sweeteners on the reward and taste-related regions of the brain, using fMRI scans at different timepoints

Forthcoming presenters include: Marion Buso (PhD student), Dr David Mela (Independent nutrition scientist, advisor, and consultant)