Splenda and Sugar Face Off

Splenda has been on the market for four years and already it can be found in more than 4,000 products, including fruit juices, yogurt and soda. Coca-Cola recently announced it will create a new Diet Coke with Splenda.

Splenda has gobbled up half the artificial sweetener market, with $173 million dollars in sales last year, overpowering other sugar substitutes such as Equal and Sweet'N Low.

Much of Splenda's growth has been fueled by an aggressive marketing campaign that emphasizes Splenda's "natural origin" -- claiming it is made from sugar.

Sugar on the Offensive

That campaign has sugar producers so upset that they've filed a lawsuit to stop what they say is Splenda's false and misleading advertising.

"Splenda is, in fact, a highly processed chemical compound made in a factory," said Andy Bresko, a Sugar Association spokesman, at a recent news conference.

But that doesn't seem to bother some consumers who told ABC News they would continue to use the sugar substitute. "I would buy Splenda knowing it was made from chemicals, given the alternatives of sugar substitutes," said one woman at a Washington, D.C., grocery store.

So Why Do We Keep Getting Fatter?

Dr. David Katz, a nutrition expert from Yale University Medical School, told "Good Morning America" that Splenda is made from sugar, though it is chemically modified.

But Katz added he didn't think there was a significant health difference between Splenda and other sugar substitutes. "We're in a honeymoon period with Splenda, and we've been there before," said Katz.

So if artificial sweeteners are growing more popular and do help cut calories, why are Americans getting fatter than ever?

Katz says it's our obsession with looking for a "quick fix" to weight problems. "Weight control is about eating well and being active," he said.

Katz also said that in scientific studies of animals given diet soda and regular soda, the animals given diet soda became confused and looked to replace those calories elsewhere.

"One of the things with artificial sweeteners, they tend to maintain people's preference for sweet taste," said Katz.

Tips for Cutting Calories the Natural Way

Katz offered the following tips on cutting calories in your diet without relying solely on artificial sweeteners.

Look for hidden sugar in your food. There is sugar added to bread, crackers, pasta sauce, salad dressing and other foods that doesn't need to be there. Katz recommends buying more wholesome alternatives.

Drink lots of water. Start to drink water to replace soda, whether sweetened with sugar or artificial sweeteners.

Portion control. Americans are trained to "super-size" everything. Get out of the habit of eating everything on your plate.

Use non-fat powdered milk as a baking substitute. Katz uses non-fat powdered milk to replace some of the sugar in baked foods. He says you're adding calcium and protein, and there's natural sugar in the milk for more nutrition with less sugar.