Tuesday October 03, 2023

Non-sugar sweeteners contain potential risk for diabetes, heart ailments: WHO

May 16, 2023

ISLAMABAD: The World Health Organization (WHO) has advised against using non-sugar sweeteners due to their potential risk for type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and adults mortality.

The recommendation is based on the findings of a systematic review of the available evidence, which suggests that the use of non-sugar sweeteners does not confer any long-term benefit in reducing body fat in adults or children. In contrast, there may be potential undesirable effects from its long-term use, such as an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and mortality in adults.

“People need to consider other ways to reduce free sugars intake, such as consuming food with naturally occurring sugars, like fruit or unsweetened food and beverages,” says Francesco Branca, WHO Director for Nutrition and Food Safety.

“They 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,” he added.

The recommendation applies to all people except individuals with pre-existing diabetes and includes all synthetic and naturally occurring or modified non-nutritive sweeteners. Common non-sugar sweeteners include acesulfame K, aspartame, advantame, cyclamates, neotame, saccharin, sucralose, stevia and stevia derivatives.

The recommendation does not apply to personal care and hygiene products like toothpaste, skin cream, and medications, or to low-calorie sugars and sugar alcohols (polyols), which are not considered as non-sugar sweeteners.

The WHO guideline on NSS is part of a suite of existing and forthcoming guidelines on healthy diets that aim to establish lifelong healthy eating habits, improve dietary quality and decrease the risk of NCDs worldwide.