Artificial sweeteners are part of daily life for many of us, from those packets of Splenda in the coffee shop to diet sodas at the game to keto sweets for dessert. The World Health Organization wants to change that, though.
In a recommendation published earlier this month, WHO said that non-nutritive sweeteners like acesulfame K, aspartame, advantame, cyclamates, neotame, saccharin, sucralose, stevia and stevia derivatives offer no nutritional value, don’t help people lose weight, and may have long-term negative health effects.
The recommendation points out correlations between the use of artificial sweeteners and chronic diseases such as Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
“The recommendation applies to all people except individuals with pre-existing diabetes and includes all synthetic and naturally occurring or modified nonnutritive sweeteners that are not classified as sugars found in manufactured foods and beverages or sold on their own to be added to foods and beverages by consumers,” the statement said.
Is sugar better?
The WHO is not suggesting that we should choose sugar instead of stevia.
“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,” said Francesco Branca, the WHO director for nutrition and food safety. He said that non-sugar sweeteners “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.”
The New York Times quoted a statement from the International Sweeteners Association in disagreement with the WHO. They say, “Low/no calorie sweeteners are one of the most thoroughly researched ingredients in the world and continue to be a helpful tool to manage obesity, diabetes and dental diseases.”
Many people find that they can get used to less-sweet foods over time. Enjoy fruit and try to cut back on sweets in general.
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