A recent study performed by the National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Diseases found that after drinking a 12 oz can of diet soda, children had twice the concentration of sucralose in their blood as their adult counterparts, according to Science Daily.
The study included 11 children aged 6-12 and 22 adults aged 18-45 and measured the effects of both sucralose and acesulfame-potassium. Neither group had any known medical conditions and were neither were using any medications.
Exposure to sucralose, an artificial sweetener found in diet drinks and other food products, may negatively impact children's health and metabolism because it is difficult for children to flush substances from the bloodstream.
This study could impact consumer perceptions of artificial sweeteners, which in general have been positive because they contain few to zero calories. In general, sugar has replaced fats and carbohydrates as the ingredient consumers try to avoid.
Demand for sweet-tasting products, however, has not diminished. As a result, manufacturers are on the hunt for alternative, less-processed sweeteners to flavor their products. In keeping with the less-processed trend, manufacturers are not using artificial sweeteners as much as they once did.
Some of the natural ingredients being considered as the next great sweetener include sugar brown rice syrup, date paste and maple syrup. Currently, stevia is arguably the most popular plant-based alternative because it is easy to grow and cultivate in diverse environments.
It's possible that these results will increase stevia's popularity. Highly refined forms of the leaf are generally considered safe by the FDA and can be used in beverages without the side effects of sucralose. Manufacturers are working on sweetener blends to get past the strong aftertaste that stevia sometimes leaves behind in drinks.