Are There Any Health Risks to Eating Food Containing Sorbitol?

Health risks to eating food containing sorbitol include bloating, abdominal pain and diarrhea, according to The Center for Science in the Public Interest. Osmotic diarrhea can occur when people consume high levels of sorbitol. Children are particularly vulnerable to gastrointestinal side effects from consuming candies made with the sweetener.

Often used as a sugar substitute, sorbitol naturally occurs in fruits including apples, prunes and peaches, notes the Center for Science in the Public Interest. As little as 10 grams of sorbitol can lead to diarrhea and other symptoms in some adults. About 7.5 grams of the sweetener can cause a 33-pound 3-year-old child to develop diarrhea.

Sorbitol, an osmotic laxative, causes osmotic diarrhea, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians. The watery diarrhea develops when water moves to the gastrointestinal tract due to poor absorption of food substances.