ILSI Europe Workshop on ‘Dietary Sweetness – Is It an Issue?’

Brussels, Belgium
03/04/2017 – 04/04/2017


Humans have an inborn liking and desire for sweetness that is persistent in all ethnic groups and cultures. Changes can be seen in the characteristics of liking and motivation for sweetness as we progress through life. Today, however, human attraction to sweet sources of energy is seen as a potential risk for developing less healthy eating patterns. In this context, there is often a failure to distinguish between putative effects of exposure to sources of sweetness (e.g. free sugars in the diet) and the effects of exposure to sweetness itself. This workshop, jointly organised by the Dietary Carbohydrates and Eating Behaviour and Energy Balance Task Forces, assessed the evidence base linking sweetness with health and dietary preferences throughout life stages.

The workshop on ‘Dietary Sweetness: Is It an Issue’ aims to encompass the great variety of scientific issues associated with this topic. Among them, it will for instance address the relationships of variation in sweetness perception and exposure with food preference, diet quality and energy balance.

Expected Output
This workshop brought together experts from different fields to build a scientific consensus on this very important topic. Research gaps and needs were also identified. The workshop will result in a peer-reviewed publication. Based on the outcomes of this event, a follow-up expert group might be created to address some of the workshop conclusions.

Organising Committee Members


The flyer including the programme is available here.


Overall Chair – Prof. Ian Macdonald (University of Nottingham, UK)
Overall Co-Chair – Dr Angela Bonnema (Cargill, US)
Overall Rapporteur – Dr Anna Wittekind (London Metropolitan University, UK)

Session 1: Welcome and Introduction: The Roles of Sweet Taste in the Diet

Dietary Sweetness: A Controversy
Prof. Diána Bánáti (ILSI Europe, BE)

The Evolution and Biology of Sweetness
Dr Gary Beauchamp (Monell Chemical Senses Center, US)

Session 2: Sweetness, Diet Quality and Energy Intake: What Is the Evidence That Exposure to Sweetness Affects Diet Quality and Energy Intake?

The Impact of Frequent / Persistent Exposure to Sweetness in Earlier Life Stages on Intake  of Sweet Sugar-Containing Foods and Drinks Later in Life
Dr Sophie Nicklaus (National Institute of Agricultural Research (INRA), FR)

The Role of Sweetness in Dietary Patterns: Past and Present
Prof. Kees de Graaf (University of Wageningen, NL)

Sweetness and Diet Quality
Ms Sigrid Gibson (Scientific Advisor, UK)

Exposure to Dietary Sweetness With Calories: Is There a Learned Association, and   Does Sweetness Without Calories Impact Food Intake Patterns and Energy Balance?
Prof. Peter Rogers (University of Bristol, UK)

Session 3: Health Aspects of Sweet Taste: Does Sweet Taste per se Affect Health?

The Perception and Nutritional Implications of Sweet Taste in Adults With Obesity and / or Type 2 Diabetes
Prof. Richard Mattes (Purdue University, US)

Sweetness and Glycaemic Regulation: Acute and Chronic Exposure to Dietary Sweetness
Prof. John McLaughlin (University of Manchester, UK)


How Do Infants React to Sweetness Before the Age of Two? How Is It Different for the Other Primary Tastes?
Dr Camille Schwartz (National Institute of Agricultural Research (INRA), FR)

EffectS of non-nutritive sWeetened beverages on appetITe during aCtive weigHt loss (SWITCH)
Ms Lauren McGale (University of Liverpool, UK) 

This Sweetener Tastes Just Right: A Comparison of Sweetness and Preference Changes Over Time Between Beverages Sweetened With Low Calorie Sweeteners
Ms Kelly Higgins (Purdue University, US)

Taste Intake Patterns According to Gender and Weight Status in The Netherlands
Astrid van Langeveld (University of Wageningen, NL)

Financial Support
This event was made possible through the financial support from ILSI Europe’s Dietary Carbohydrates and Eating Behaviour & Energy Balance Task Forces.

Financial support for this workshop was also provided by the North American Branch of ILSI, Technical Committee on Carbohydrates. This committee facilitates scientific research and dialogue to improve awareness and understanding of carbohydrates and their health effects. The breadth of work encompasses sugars, fibres, and carbohydrate quality. Information is available at the ILSI North America website (

For more information on this event, please contact Dr Pierre Dussort or Dr Cyril Marsaux, Scientific Project Managers (,