Pediatrician Dr. Carissa Baker-Smith, associate professor Univ. of Maryland School of Medicine: Artificial sweeteners are high-intensity sweeteners many times sweeter than sugar. They add few or no calories to the foods they flavor.
Because they can be made from natural ingredients such as herbs (Stevia, Truvia), fruits and berries (sugar alcohols like sorbitol often used in chewing gum) as well as synthesized from chemicals (saccharin, aspartame), they are now called 'nonnutritive sweeteners.' These sweeteners are 'ubiquitous' in products and it can be hard to people to pick them out. 'First you have to read the ingredient list, and then you have to know the names of all the different sweeteners. Do people really recognize aspartame and acesulfame potassium?' One 2014 study found parents unable to identify these sweeteners in 77% of the products they were shown.