WHO Advisory Against Non-Sugar Sweeteners

The World Health Organization (WHO) has recently issued new guidelines advising against the consumption of non-sugar sweeteners (NSS) as a means to prevent unhealthy weight gain and reduce the risk of non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

Understanding Non-Sugar Sweeteners

Non-sugar sweeteners, including aspartame, stevia, and saccharin, are commonly used as substitutes for sugar in packaged food and beverages. These sweeteners are often marketed as low-calorie alternatives that can aid in weight management.

The WHO’s Guidelines

Contrary to popular belief, the WHO’s guidelines highlight that non-sugar sweeteners do not offer long-term benefits for weight control in adults and children. In fact, the consumption of NSS can lead to “undesirable effects,” including an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and mortality among adults.

The Lack of Nutritional Value

Non-sugar sweeteners do not possess any nutritional value and are not considered essential dietary factors. It is critical to explore other methods to reduce sugar intake, such as consuming foods with naturally occurring sugars, like fruits, or opting for unsweetened food and beverages.

Applicability of the Recommendation

The WHO’s recommendation against non-sugar sweeteners applies to the general population, with the exception of individuals with pre-existing diabetes. It is important to note that the guideline does not encompass low-calorie sugars and sugar alcohols, which are different from NSS as they have calories and are not classified as non-sugar sweeteners.

NSS in Personal Care and Hygiene Products

The WHO clarifies that the recommendation against non-sugar sweeteners specifically pertains to their consumption in food and beverages. Non-sugar sweeteners can still be used in personal care and hygiene products such as medications and skin creams.

A Broader Aim for Healthy Diets

The WHO’s guideline on non-sugar sweeteners is part of a larger effort to establish healthy eating habits and improve dietary quality worldwide. By discouraging the use of NSS, the WHO aims to decrease the risk of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and promote lifelong health.



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