WHO advises against artificial sweeteners for weight control, disease

UNITED NATIONS, May 16 (APP): The World Health Organization,  a Geneva-based UN agency, has released new guidance advising against the use of non-sugar sweeteners (NSS) to control weight or manage noncommunicable diseases, citing a lack of evidence that these products have any long-term benefits.

The WHO also noted NSS use may be linked to Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and mortality in adults. A study was released earlier this year that found a possible link between the popular zero-sugar sweetener erythritol and strokes, heart attacks, blood clots and death.

Common NSS include acesulfame K, aspartame, advantame, cyclamates, neotame, saccharin, sucralose, stevia, and other stevia derivatives.

“Replacing free sugars with NSS does not help with weight control in the long term. People need to consider other ways to reduce free sugars intakes, such as consuming food with naturally occurring sugars, like fruit, or unsweetened food and beverages,” Francesco Branca, WHO director for nutrition and food safety, said in a statement on Monday.

“NSS are not essential dietary factors and have no nutritional value. People should reduce the sweetness of the diet altogether, starting early in life, to improve their health.”

Branca noted that non-sugar sweeteners lack nutritional value and recommended people reduce the sweetness of their diets overall. Non-sugar sweeteners that are used in personal care products like toothpaste, skin cream and medications are exempted from this guidance.

This WHO recommendation includes all synthetic or natural sweeteners that aren’t classified as sugars in manufactured foods and applies to all individuals, aside from those with preexisting diabetes.

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