Science & Tech

WHO’s Non-Sugar Sweetener Advisory

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has issued new guidelines that advise against using non-sugar sweeteners (NSS) as a healthy substitute for sugar.

What exactly are non-sugar sweeteners?

  • NSS are low- or no-calorie sugar substitutes such as aspartame, saccharin, stevia, and others.
  • They are promoted for weight loss and blood glucose control in people with diabetes.

WHO’s Discoveries

  • The WHO reviewed 283 studies on NSS consumption in adults and children.
  • Higher NSS consumption was linked to a 76% increase in obesity risk and a 0.14 kg/m2 rise in BMI.
  • There was no evidence of long-term advantages in terms of lowering body fat, and long-term use of NSS may raise the risk of Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, chronic renal disease, and cancer.
  • According to WHO, NSS should not be used for weight loss or lowering the risk of diet-related noncommunicable illnesses.

Concerns and Suggestions

  • India has a high rate of obesity and a large number of persons with pre-diabetes.
  • Type 2 diabetes caused by lifestyle is becoming more common among young people.
  • WHO advises eating a well-balanced diet of minimally processed, unsweetened foods and beverages.

What awaits us?

  • Before being adopted as national policy, WHO’s conditional guidance requires more discussion among policymakers.
  • Efforts should be made to teach children about food preferences and good eating habits.
  • Doctors can now provide patients more confident advice about NSS consumption.
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