WHO issues warning on use of sweeteners

WHO issues warning on use of sweeteners

Lovers of sugar-free and low-calorie sweeteners received a warning from the World Health Organization (WHO) last month about the consequences of misusing products that offer: zero sugar and zero calories without sacrificing sweet taste.

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According to the document it was “found that there is no evidence of long-term benefit on body fat measurements in adults or children”, i.e., using this type of products as part of weight loss programs did not prove to be effective.

What it did find is: “potential undesirable effects of long-term use in the form of increased risk of type 2 diabetes, CVD (stroke) and mortality in adults”.

They add that there is “limited evidence suggesting possible undesirable effects in the form of increased risk of premature delivery during pregnancy”.

They add that the warning should be taken in the context of efforts to reduce the intake of free sugars, which have been replaced by non-caloric sweeteners. Therefore, the study sought to evaluate the consequences of the increasing use of these additives on public health.

Specifically, “WHO suggests that acaloric or low-calorie sweeteners should not be used as a means of weight control or to reduce the risk of non-communicable diseases”.

It is important to note that the references are of the “conditional” type. The Spanish newspaper El País clarified that “the recommendations issued by the WHO can be of two types: strong -or firm- and conditional (also called relative)”.

On the other hand, the study does not recommend a return to the consumption of free sugars due to well-documented health risks. The World Health Organization’s own list of sweeteners includes: “acesulfame K, aspartame, advantame, cyclamate, neotame, saccharin, sucralose, stevia and stevia derivatives”.

Finally, the international organization encourages consumers to become unaccustomed to the presence of sweetness, whatever its origin, and to learn to consume foods with less free sugars or sweeteners.

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