Sugar, Sugar Substitutes, and Artificial Sweeteners

Sugar, sugar substitutes and artificial sweeteners may be safely used by children and teens with diabetes. Such sugars may be nutritive or non-nutritive sweeteners.

Nutritive Sweeteners: Sugars that contain calories. Some products are on the market as “sugarless” but contain nutritive sweeteners such as fructose or sorbitol. These sugars can be used between meals if the product that contains them has <20 calories per serving or with meals or snacks if the product has over 20 calories per serving.

Non-Nutritive Sweeteners: Sugar substitutes that do not contain calories. Presently saccharine, aspartame* and acesulfame K are the only non-nutritive sweeteners on the market. These sugar substitutes can be used during and between meals.


Okay to use anytime in moderate amounts:

Acesulfame K

Brand Names – Sweet One, Swiss Sweet
200 times sweeter than sugar.
Can be used in cooking/baking.
Recommended limit of 15 mg/kg of weight per day.
50 mg/packet of sweetener.


Brand Names – Nutrasweet, Equal, Nutrataste
200 times sweeter than sugar.
Do not use in foods cooked longer than 20-25 minutes.
Recommended limit of 50 mg/kg of weight per day.
35 mg/packet of sweetener.


Brand Names – Sweet ’n Low, Sucaryl, Sugar Twin
300 times sweeter than sugar.
Not commonly used in cooking.
Recommended limit of 1000 mg/day for adults and 500 mg/day for children.
20 mg/packet of sweetener.


Brand Name – Splenda
600 times sweeter than sugar.
Can be used in cooking/baking.
Recommended limit of 5mg/kg of body weight per day.
12 mg/packet of sweetener.

* Note that aspartame and other non-nutritive sweeteners are sometimes found in products together with nutritive sweeteners. A “sugar-free” product is not always a free food.

For use in meals and snacks as part of your meal plan:


75% sugar


Including milk chocolate, 30-40% sugar

Corn Syrup

100% glucose


Naturally present in fruit, also known as Levulose


Has glucose and fructose in it


Naturally present in milk


50-75% sugar


Also known as brown sugar, confectioner’s sugar,
powdered sugar, table sugar.
Sugar – 50% glucose, 50% fructose

Sugar Alcohol

Includes: sorbitol, maltitol, mannitol, xylitol
May cause gas and/or diarrhea if moderate to large
quantities are eaten.