The SWEET Consortium recently attended the 14th European Nutrition Conference FENS 2023 on November 14-17 in Belgrade, Serbia. Here, the SWEET Consortium hosted a symposium titled “The role of non- or low-energy sweeteners for obesity, health, safety and sustainability” which shared updates on project activities and key findings from each SWEET Work Package.

FENS, short for the Federation of European Nutrition Societies, connects 27 national nutrition societies across Europe. Their mission is to promote international research on nutrition, as well as foster communication among professionals interested in the area. FENS holds a large research conference every four years which brings together nutrition professionals worldwide to share research, discuss field challenges, and advocate evidence-based policies.

The SWEET symposium, hosted as part of the “Nutrition, Metabolism, and Chronic Disease” track was well attended by FENS delegates. The session was chaired by two of the three SWEET Principal Investigators, Prof Anne Raben from the University of Copenhagen (Denmark) and Prof Jason Halford from the University of Leeds (UK). Prof Jason Halford is also the current president of the European Association for the Study of Obesity (EASO).

The SWEET Principal Investigators opened the session, which included presentations on a range of topics:

  1. A SWEET START: Project overview (Jason Halford, University of Leeds, UK)
  2. Acute and 14-days effect of novel blends on appetite and metabolism (Jason Halford, University of Leeds, UK)
  3. Weight loss maintenance – main results from 1 year intervention study (Anne Raben, University of Copenhagen, Denmark)
  4. Microbiota and safety – main results from 1-year intervention study (Monica on behalf of Jacco Bastings, University of Maastricht, the Netherlands)
  5. Large population and twin studies – main results (Edith Feskens, University of Wageningen, the Netherlands and Lisa Heggie, University College London, UK)
  6. Sustainability of Sweeteners (James suckling, University of Surrey, UK)
  7. Making sense of sweeteners, findings from the SWEET consumer and media studies (Lada Timotijevic, University of Surrey)

The symposium ended with an open question and answer session during which the speakers discussed with the audience the next steps for SWEET research and recommendations around sweetener-related policies. Delegates were invited to the SWEET Project Final Stakeholder event, to be held in Brussels on the 18th of January 2024.

Other SWEET consortium members presented throughout the FENS program. PhD researcher Michelle Pang presented data from a SWEET Project sub-study, focussed on “the long-term effects of sweeteners and sweetness enhancers on adipose tissue gene expression and adipocyte morphology”.  SWEET PI Jason Halford presented the “Effects of Non-Nutritive Sweetened Beverages vs Water After 52-Week Weight Management Programme”, which focused on findings from the SWITCH Study, on behalf of team members from the University of Liverpool (UK). Read more about the SWITCH Study here (EASO strongly encourages the use of person-first language when talking about obesity in all written and oral communications).