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WHO GUIDELINES ON NON-SUGAR SWEETENERS (NSS)



  Apr 27, 2024

WHO GUIDELINES ON NON-SUGAR SWEETENERS (NSS)



What are non-sugar sweeteners (NSS)?

Non-sugar sweeteners include both synthetic and naturally occurring or modified non-nutritive sweeteners that are not classified as sugars. Common types of NSS are acesulfame K, aspartame, advantame, cyclamates, neotame, saccharin, sucralose, stevia, and stevia derivatives. These substances are used in various foods and beverages to provide sweetness without the caloric content of sugars.

What does the new WHO guideline say about the use of NSS for weight control?

The World Health Organization advises against using non-sugar sweeteners as a strategy for weight control or to reduce the risk of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs). According to WHO, replacing free sugars with NSS does not provide long-term benefits in controlling weight or reducing body fat in adults or children.

Why does WHO recommend against using NSS for weight control?

WHO's recommendation is based on a systematic review that found no long-term benefits of using NSS in reducing body fat. Additionally, there are potential undesirable effects associated with the long-term use of NSS, including an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and higher mortality rates in adults.

Are there any exceptions to WHO's recommendation on the use of NSS?

The guideline generally applies to all individuals except those with pre-existing diabetes. For such individuals, the use of NSS may still be advisable under medical guidance.

What alternatives does WHO suggest for reducing sugar intake?

WHO suggests reducing free sugars intake by consuming foods with naturally occurring sugars, such as fruits, or consuming unsweetened foods and beverages. The organization also recommends reducing the overall sweetness in diets, starting early in life, to foster healthier eating habits.

Does the WHO guideline on NSS apply to all products containing these sweeteners?

The guideline does not apply to personal care and hygiene products that contain NSS, such as toothpaste, skin creams, and medications. It also does not apply to low-calorie sugars and sugar alcohols (polyols), which contain calories and are not considered NSS.

What is the basis for the conditional nature of WHO's recommendation on NSS?

The recommendation is considered conditional because the observed link between NSS use and disease outcomes could be influenced by baseline characteristics of study participants and complex patterns of NSS use. This means that policy decisions based on this guideline might require significant discussion within specific country contexts, particularly concerning the extent of NSS consumption among different age groups.

These FAQs provide clarity on WHO's stance on non-sugar sweeteners, underscoring the importance of considering healthier alternatives and the broader context in dietary decision-making.



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