WHO Warns Against Consuming Artificial Sweeteners

Joseph Iyanu
WHO warns against artificial sweeteners for weight control, citing no long-term benefit and potential health risks. Opt for natural sugars.
WHO Warns Against Consuming Artificial Sweeteners. Image:Günther | Pixabay

The World Health Organization (WHO), a trusted authority on global health matters, has recently issued guidelines suggesting caution against the use of non-sugar sweeteners (NSS).

As per these recommendations, using NSS for weight control or to reduce the risk of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) is unadvisable.

Unveiling The Truth About Artificial Sweeteners

The guidelines are informed by a systematic review of available evidence. Interestingly, the data indicate that NSS provides no substantial long-term advantage in decreasing body fat in adults or children.

This is contrary to what most people perceive artificial sweeteners to be – a healthier substitute for sugar.

Non-Sugar Sweeteners Provide No Health Benefits. Photo: Bukowsky18 | Flickr

Moreover, the review hints at the potentially harmful effects of prolonged NSS use, such as an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. This information is crucial, especially considering the increasing global prevalence of these diseases.

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No More Sweet Illusions

According to Francesco Branca, WHO Director for Nutrition and Food Safety, “NSS are not essential dietary factors and offer no nutritional value.

People should reduce their overall dietary sweetness, starting early in life, to improve their health.” This statement serves as an urgent wake-up call to reconsider our dietary choices.

The WHO’s recommendation applies to everyone, excluding individuals with pre-existing diabetes. This group may still need to rely on NSS for blood sugar control. 

The recommendation encompasses all synthetic, naturally occurring, or modified non-nutritive sweeteners. This includes common NSS like aspartame, acesulfame K, and sucralose but excludes sugars found in manufactured foods and beverages.

Artificial Sweeteners: A Friend Or Foe?

The guidelines issued by the WHO do not extend to personal care and hygiene products containing NSS or to low-calorie sugars and sugar alcohols (polyols).

These sugars or sugar derivatives contain calories and are not classified as NSS. They often find use in “light” or “reduced-calorie” food products.

Who Says that Prolonged Use of Nss Can Lead to Type 2 Diabetes. Photo: Bukowsky18 | Flickr.

Due to the complexity and variation in NSS use and the baseline characteristics of study participants, these recommendations are classified as conditional. 

This implies that policy decisions based on these guidelines may require extensive discussion in specific country contexts.

This could relate to the extent of consumption in different age groups or the availability of alternative healthy food options.

Taking A Step Towards Healthier Diets

These NSS guidelines are part of a broader initiative by the WHO to promote healthy diets, enhance dietary quality, and reduce the risk of NCDs globally.

This initiative is more crucial than ever in a world where unhealthy dietary choices have become the norm rather than the exception.

With these guidelines, the WHO has taken a definitive stance against the widespread use of artificial sweeteners.

It’s now up to individuals, health professionals, and policymakers to take note and act accordingly for better health outcomes.

Remember, eating naturally sweet foods like fruits, or unsweetened foods and beverages, is a healthier alternative to consuming artificial sweeteners.

And as Francesco Branca, the WHO director for nutrition and food safety, emphasizes, reducing the overall sweetness in our diets could be a crucial step towards improved health.

In conclusion, it is essential that we all take these guidelines seriously. They not only provide insights into our current dietary habits but also shed light on the path we should take for a healthier future.

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