They pervade the American diet -- in pink, yellow and blue packets on diner counters, in sugar-free cookies and diet juices, in sodas and smoothies and low-calorie yogurt and boxes of powder for baking.
Every few years, a study links one to cancer. People get scared. Follow-up research finds nothing to worry about. Decades may pass, but sooner or later another scary study comes along. And still, we keep eating these faux sugars.
Today, nearly 200 million Americans consume sugar-free or low-calorie products, according to the Calorie Control Council. About half of those people consume an average of four of these products every day. Diet sodas make up 29% of the nation's $70-billion annual soft drink sales.
Obviously artificial sweeteners are consumed, but whether they'll ever be consumed with total ease is in question.
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