Friday, 21 Jun 2024

Don't use sugar substitutes for weight loss, World Health Organization advises


Don't use sugar substitutes for weight loss, World Health Organization advises

Don't use sugar substitutes if you are trying to lose weight, according to new guidance from the World Health Organization.

The global health body said a systematic review of the available evidence suggests the use of non-sugar sweeteners, or NSS, "does not confer any long-term benefit in reducing body fat in adults or children."

"Replacing free sugars with non-sugar sweeteners does not help people control their weight long-term," said Francesco Branca, director of WHO's department of nutrition and food safety. "We did see a mild reduction of body weight in the short term, but it's not going to be sustained."

The guidance applies to all people except those with preexisting diabetes, Branca said. Why? Simply because none of the studies in the review included people with diabetes, and an assessment could not be made, he said.

The review also indicated that there might be "potential undesirable effects" from the long-term use of sugar substitutes such as a mildly increased risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

However, "this recommendation is not meant to comment on safety of consumption," Branca said. "What this guideline says is that if we're looking for reduction of obesity, weight control or risk of noncommunicable diseases, that is unfortunately something science been unable to demonstrate," he said. "It's not going to produce the positive health effects that some people might be looking for."

Non-sugar sweeteners are widely used as an ingredient in prepackaged foods and beverages and are also sometimes added to food and drinks directly by consumers. WHO issued guidelines on sugar intake in 2015, recommending that adults and children reduce their daily intake of free sugars to less than 10% of their total energy intake. Following that recommendation, interest in sugar alternatives intensified, the review said.

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