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World Health Organization Warns Against Using Artificial Sweeteners

World Health Organization Warns Against Using Artificial Sweeteners

The World Health Organization on Monday warned against using artificial sweeteners to control body weight or reduce the risk of non-communicable diseases, saying long-term use is not effective and could pose health risks.

These sugar alternatives, when consumed long term, do not serve to reduce body fat in adults or children, the WHO stated in a recommendationadding that continued consumption could increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and mortality in adults.

“The recommendation applies to all people except people with pre-existing diabetes, and includes all synthetic and natural or modified non-nutritive sweeteners that are not classified as sugars found in manufactured foods and beverages, or sold on their own for addition to food and drink by consumers,” the WHO said.

The WHO recommendation is based on a review of available evidence, the agency said, and is part of a set of healthy eating guidelines being rolled out.

Some examples of sweeteners include aspartame, saccharin, sucralose, and stevia. WHO announcement contradicts previous studies that said these sweeteners provide no health benefits, but also do not cause harm.

Nutrition research is constantly evolving, and findings are updated with stronger data, said Stephanie McBurnett, registered dietitian and nutrition educator with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. Examining the effects of saturated fat and other parts of people’s diets can provide more insight into the general reasons for certain health problems that have been blamed on sugar.

“It’s no surprise to me that the World Health Organization found no difference between the health benefits of regular and diet soda,” said Ms Burnett, who is also registered dietitian and nutritionist. “These are both processed foods.” She added: “If you look at what’s driving these chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes, obesity, sugar isn’t always the only factor.”

The WHO recommendation does not directly affect the policy of any particular country. The US Food and Drug Administration, for example, could consider these guidelines and institute their own concerns or change labeling, Ms McBurnett said. But he is not required to do so either.

The FDA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The International Sweeteners Association, a non-profit organization that represents the industry, called the WHO recommendation a disservice to consumers.

“Low-calorie or no-calorie sweeteners are one of the most studied ingredients in the world and continue to be a useful tool for managing obesity, diabetes and dental disease,” the association said in a statement. “They offer consumers an alternative to reduce sugar and calorie intake with the sweet taste they know and expect.”

The WHO recommendation is currently considered conditional, the organization said.

“This indicates that policy decisions based on this recommendation may require substantive discussion in specific national contexts, related for example to the extent of consumption in different age groups,” the statement said.

The recommendation does not extend to personal care and hygiene products containing artificial sugars such as toothpaste, skin creams and medicines, the WHO said. nor does it include low-calorie sugars and sugar alcohols, which come from the sugar itself.

“People should consider other ways to reduce their intake of free sugars, such as eating foods that contain natural sugars, such as fruit, or unsweetened foods and drinks,” said Francesco Branca, director of the WHO for nutrition and food security. He said sugar-free sweeteners “are not essential dietary factors and have no nutritional value. People should completely reduce the sweetness of the diet, starting early in life, to improve their health.

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