Question Sheet: Sweeeet! The Skinny on Sugar Substitutes


Before reading:

  1. Why do people worry about kids eating too much sugar?
  2. Which types of sweet foods and beverages do you like to eat and drink?
  3. Does consuming a lot of sugar affect you? If so, how?

During reading:

  1. Why does David Katz say, “The more [sweets] you get, the more you need to

    feel satisfied”?

  2. How are sweet flavors different from spicy and sour flavors?
  3. How are artificial sweeteners different from sugar?
  4. Why are some people concerned about getting cancer from artificial

    sweeteners? Why are these sweeteners now considered safe?

  5. Other than the uncertain risk of health problems, what else is concerning

    about artificial sweeteners, according to Katz?

  6. How does eating less sugar affect a person’s taste buds?

After reading:

  1. Do you consider yourself a sugar junkie?
  2. Do you think switching from sugar to artificial sweeteners is a good or a

    bad idea? Explain.

  3. Much of the controversy over artificial sweeteners arises from debates about

    whether experiments are based on good, sound science or not. How might

    scientific experiments mislead people?

  4. Why might a preference for certain flavors develop during childhood? How can

    a person change his or her eating preferences?

  5. How sweet are your favorite foods? For a week, keep a sugar journal. Write

    down everything you eat. Then, record how many grams of sugar (or carbohydrates)

    are in each item. Were you surprised by what you found? [Hint: A variety of

    online calculators offer this type of information. Here’s one example: Wellness Solutions)]

  6. When you read nutrition labels, sweetening agents can appear under many

    names, including high-fructose corn syrup and honey. Make a list of the

    different types of sweeteners found in the foods and beverages you consume.

    Separate these ingredients into a full-calorie category and a diet category.

  7. Do you think a company would lie about cancer-causing chemicals in its

    products in order to stay in business? Why or why not?

  8. Besides artificial sweeteners, what are some other products that make people

    worry about cancer or other health problems?


  1. Imagine that a friend who eats a lot of sugar is switching to artificial

    sweeteners. Write a letter persuading him or her not to make the switch. Next,

    imagine that a friend who eats lots of diet products is going to go back to

    eating sugar instead. Write a persuasive letter arguing not to make

    that switch.

  2. Should scientists conduct more studies on the possible link between

    artificial sweeteners and cancer? With a friend, set up a debate in which one

    person argues in favor of more research and the other argues against it. Each

    person should write and deliver a two-minute speech. Discussion can follow.


  1. The article explains that a 12-ounce can of regular cola contains about 10

    teaspoons of sugar, while a can of diet cola contains less than a tenth of a

    teaspoon of the artificial sweetener aspartame. Assume, for the sake of this

    problem, that a diet cola contains a tenth of a teaspoon of aspartame. How much

    less aspartame than sugar is there in a diet vs. regular soda? Express your

    answer in both fractions and percents.

  2. How many teaspoons of sugar per ounce are in a regular cola? How many

    teaspoons of aspartame per ounce are in a diet one?