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What's the scoop on artificial sweeteners?

Q: "Has anyone who eats Yoplait Original yogurt realized that the yogurt is now made with 25 percent less sugar? I have been eating Yoplait for years, and now it tastes so awful that I'm going to have to switch. I can't stand sugar substitutes, which is why I don't buy Yoplait Light. Why couldn't they leave the original one alone?" — Kelly H., Sykesville.

A: Whether it's a "new and improved" food recipe or an altered footwear design, it is frustrating when a manufacturer tinkers with a product you've come to love.

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In an effort to reduce the amount of sugar calories in Yoplait Original yogurt from 170 to 150, Yoplait claims to have increased the amount of dairy, balanced the natural flavors and reduced the amount of sugar per six-ounce cup from 26 to 18 grams in its 25 percent less sugar yogurt. No artificial sweetener is listed in the ingredients, which include milk, sugar, modified corn starch, kosher gelatin, natural flavor, vitamin A acetate and vitamin D3.

The sugar substitute sucralose, also known as Splenda, is, however, used in Yoplait Light yogurts, a switch that was made in 2014 when General Mills announced plans to remove aspartame — most commonly known as Equal or NutraSweet and generally found in drinks, gum, yogurt, and cough drops — from its reduced-calorie yogurts in favor of sucralose. This "sweeter change," according to foxnews.com, was done to help Yoplait Light "bring back customers," as aspartame has been "accused of causing everything from weight gain to cancer," notes health.com. Health.com goes on to say, however, "since being approved by the [Food and Drug Administration] in 1981, studies have found no convincing evidence and the FDA, the World Health Organization, and the American Dietetic Association say aspartame in moderation poses no threats."

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The Center for Science in the Public Interest, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit watchdog and consumer advocacy group that advocates for safer and healthier foods, disagrees, giving aspartame the lowest ranking in a food additives review. Additionally, anyone with the genetically inherited disorder phenylketonuria should avoid aspartame.

But despite the fact that sugar contributes to obesity and tooth decay, "Americans eat 165 pounds of added sugar each year, and sugar substitutes are on the rise as well, which are hundreds of times sweeter than table sugar," said Frances Largeman-Roth, author of "Feed the Belly" and co-author of "The Carb Lovers Diet."

A sugar substitute is a natural or synthetic food additive that provides the sweet taste of sugar with significantly less food energy, or calories. Health.com lists the 10 most common artificial sweeteners and sugar substitutes as sucrose, acesulfame potassium, agave nectar, aspartame, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, neotame, stevia leaf extract, saccharin, sucralose and sugar alcohols, most of which are surrounded by hotly debated health detriments.

As a former migraine sufferer, I tend to, as a rule, avoid most sugar substitutes, preferring to sweeten plain Greek yogurt with a dash of cinnamon and a swirl of honey, topping it with fresh berries and homemade granola, the recipe for which can be found on my Facebook page, Triathlon Mom.

For those who've tried the new reduced-sugar Yoplait Original yogurt and don't care for it, Yoplait is currently offering a "Love it or it's free" rebate through Dec. 31.

For more information, visit Yoplait.com.

Please email your fitness and health questions to me at leimlite@gmail.com or mail to:

As I See Fit

c/o The Advocate

115 Airport Drive, Suite 170

Westminster, Md. 21157

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