While artificial sweeteners are becoming a popular sugar alternative, their negative effects remain understudied and obscure to the general public. Whether people purposely incorporate them into their diet, artificial sweeteners are found in thousands of products and are consumed by all ages. The calories and weight gain associated with refined sugar often cause people to turn to zero-calorie options, thinking they are healthier; however, artificial sweeteners serve just as, if not greater, a threat to one’s health. Artificial sweeteners have been associated with weight gain, numerous health risks, type 2 diabetes, and negative effects on the gut microbiome. The goal of this project was to examine artificial sweeteners' effects on the body to see if they are safe for consumption. A literature review was conducted to gather all the negative effects. Also, two experiments were designed; one tested to see if popular artificial sweeteners inhibited bacterial growth. The other investigated if artificial sweeteners were capable of promoting Escherichia coli or Enterococcus faecalis growth. The literature review concluded that artificial sweeteners can cause weight gain, increase the risks for stroke and cardiovascular disease, and increase the severity of disorders of the gut microbiome. The experiments showed that artificial sweeteners do not prevent the growth of bacteria but enhanced the growth of E. coli.

Semester/Year of Award

Fall 2023


William Staddon

Mentor Department Affiliation

Biological Sciences

Access Options

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Honors Scholars

Degree Level



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