The World Health organization (WHO) said that a scientific review of existing evidence found that consumption of such sweeteners was also linked to an increased risk of Type-2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and mortality in the long run. Artificial sweeteners provide sweetness to food and beverages like tea and coffee, without adding significant calories. They are also widely used ingredients in pre-packed food. Hence, they have become a popular choice, especially among those who are trying to burn extra calories or loose weight. WHO made the caution on Monday recommending against the use of ‘non sugar sweeteners’ (NSS) to control body weight or reduce the risk of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs. “Because weight loss and maintenance of healthy weight must be sustained over the long term to have a meaningful impact on health, evidence of minor weight loss or reduced BMI over several months or less, as observed in the … trials, without additional evidence of long term impact, does not represent a health benefit,” WHO said in its report.
The WHO, in its newly released guideline on NSS, said the recommendation was based on the findings of a systematic review of the available evidence which suggests that the use of NSS does not confer any long-term benefit in reducing body fat in adults or children.
The global health body said its results of the review also suggest that there may be potential undesirable effects from long-term use of NSS, such as an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and mortality in adults.
WHO Director for Nutrition and Food Safety, Francesco Branca, in a press statement on Monday, said “Replacing free sugars with NSS does not help with weight control in the long term. People need to consider other ways to reduce free sugars intakes, such as consuming food with naturally occurring sugars, like fruit, or unsweetened food and beverages.
“NSS 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.”
WHO further said the recommendation applies to all people except individuals with pre-existing diabetes and includes all synthetic and naturally occurring or modified non-nutritive 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.