Milken Institute School of Public Health Poster Presentations (Marvin Center & Video)

Title

Conceptualization of Low-calorie Sweetener Consumption Among Young Adults

Poster Number

72

Document Type

Poster

Status

Graduate Student - Masters

Abstract Category

Exercise and Nutrition Sciences

Keywords

Nutrition, Low-calorie sweeteners, SWEET MAPS, Concept Mapping

Publication Date

Spring 2018

Abstract

Background: Over 40% of adults and 25% of children report consuming low-calorie sweeteners (LCS) daily, yet whether LCS are beneficial for weight management and metabolic health is unclear. Epidemiologic studies demonstrate that LCS promote weight gain and development of chronic disease, yet human intervention studies suggest replacement of added sugars with LCS may be beneficial. Discrepancies in findings of observational compared to interventional studies suggest the effects of LCS may be largely dependent on the context in which they are used. The purpose of this study was to develop a conceptual framework using a mixed-method, applied social research methodology called concept mapping to understand the determinants of LCS consumption among young adults (18-35 years old) reporting habitual LCS consumption.

Method: Concept mapping engages participants in a step-wise series of tasks (i.e., brainstorming, sorting, rating), which was conducted in two phases. In phase one, participants (n = 68) were asked to brainstorm as many reasons for their LCS use as possible, responding to the prompt, ‘I consume low-calorie sweeteners and/or products labeled ‘diet,’ ‘sugar-free’ or ‘no sugar added’ because…’. Once a saturation of ideas was reached, idea synthesis identified a discrete list of LCS determinants that was representative of all brainstormed ideas. In phase two, participants (n = 93) were asked to sort the LCS determinants based on their meaning and rate (n = 97) each determinant on how true it was to their own consumption of LCS. All activities were completed using an online platform.

Results: Idea synthesis identified 38 determinants of LCS consumption. Similarity matrices, multidimensional scaling, and hierarchical cluster analysis with a two-dimensional solution produced a series of maps (i.e., SWEET MAPS) spatially representing young adults LCS consumption within 8 overarching factors (i.e., Taste Preference, Sweetness, Don’t Like Water, Dependence, Health Benefits & Performance, Weight Management, Habitual Influence, and Cost & Availability). Among these factors, Weight Management, Taste Preference, Sweetness, and Habitual Influences were rated the highest.

Discussion: Although weight management was among the highest rated factors for LCS consumption, our findings demonstrate that LCS are consumed for numerous reasons. These results will aid in the design of subsequent studies to investigate LCS health effects in a manner that best reflects ‘real-life’ consumption and accounts for contextual factors that may influence LCS effects. Furthermore, these findings call attention to the many challenges in extrapolating findings reported in highly controlled rodent models into the complex framework of human behavior.

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Creative Commons License
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Conceptualization of Low-calorie Sweetener Consumption Among Young Adults

Background: Over 40% of adults and 25% of children report consuming low-calorie sweeteners (LCS) daily, yet whether LCS are beneficial for weight management and metabolic health is unclear. Epidemiologic studies demonstrate that LCS promote weight gain and development of chronic disease, yet human intervention studies suggest replacement of added sugars with LCS may be beneficial. Discrepancies in findings of observational compared to interventional studies suggest the effects of LCS may be largely dependent on the context in which they are used. The purpose of this study was to develop a conceptual framework using a mixed-method, applied social research methodology called concept mapping to understand the determinants of LCS consumption among young adults (18-35 years old) reporting habitual LCS consumption.

Method: Concept mapping engages participants in a step-wise series of tasks (i.e., brainstorming, sorting, rating), which was conducted in two phases. In phase one, participants (n = 68) were asked to brainstorm as many reasons for their LCS use as possible, responding to the prompt, ‘I consume low-calorie sweeteners and/or products labeled ‘diet,’ ‘sugar-free’ or ‘no sugar added’ because…’. Once a saturation of ideas was reached, idea synthesis identified a discrete list of LCS determinants that was representative of all brainstormed ideas. In phase two, participants (n = 93) were asked to sort the LCS determinants based on their meaning and rate (n = 97) each determinant on how true it was to their own consumption of LCS. All activities were completed using an online platform.

Results: Idea synthesis identified 38 determinants of LCS consumption. Similarity matrices, multidimensional scaling, and hierarchical cluster analysis with a two-dimensional solution produced a series of maps (i.e., SWEET MAPS) spatially representing young adults LCS consumption within 8 overarching factors (i.e., Taste Preference, Sweetness, Don’t Like Water, Dependence, Health Benefits & Performance, Weight Management, Habitual Influence, and Cost & Availability). Among these factors, Weight Management, Taste Preference, Sweetness, and Habitual Influences were rated the highest.

Discussion: Although weight management was among the highest rated factors for LCS consumption, our findings demonstrate that LCS are consumed for numerous reasons. These results will aid in the design of subsequent studies to investigate LCS health effects in a manner that best reflects ‘real-life’ consumption and accounts for contextual factors that may influence LCS effects. Furthermore, these findings call attention to the many challenges in extrapolating findings reported in highly controlled rodent models into the complex framework of human behavior.