Artificial sweeteners are widely used in processed foods, including baked goods, soft drinks, powdered drink mixes, candy, puddings, canned foods, jams and jellies, dairy products, and scores of other foods and beverages.

Regardless of how they're classified, sugar substitutes aren't magic bullets for weight loss. Artificial sweeteners are synthetic sugar substitutes, but may be derived from naturally occurring substances, including herbs or sugar itself.

Artificial sweeteners are also known as intense sweeteners because they are many times sweeter than regular sugar.

Try different artificial sweeteners to find one or a combination that you enjoy.

Artificial sweeteners have been scrutinized intensely for decades.

Sugar alcohols generally aren't used when you prepare food at home.

Rather, they are found in many processed foods and other products, including chocolate, candy, frozen desserts, chewing gum, toothpaste, mouthwash, baked goods and fruit spreads, usually replacing sugar on an equal basis.

For instance, some manufacturers call their sweeteners "natural" even though they're processed or refined, as is the case with stevia preparations.

And some artificial sweeteners are derived from naturally occurring substances — sucralose comes from sugar, for example.

Novel sweeteners, such as stevia, are hard to fit into one particular category because of what they're made from and how they're made.

Note that although the FDA has approved highly refined stevia preparations as a novel sweetener, it has not approved whole-leaf stevia or crude stevia extracts for this use.

ADIs are intended to be about 100 times less than the smallest amount that might cause health concerns.