Don’t use sugar substitutes for weight loss: World Health Organization
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.”
The review also indicated that there might be “potential undesirable effects” from the long-term use of sugar substitutes such as an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
“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 intake, such as consuming food with naturally occurring sugars, like fruit, or unsweetened food and beverages,” Francesco Branca, WHO director for nutrition and food safety, said in a news release.
“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,” Branca said.
The organization said its recommendation applies to all people except those with preexisting diabetes.
The recommendation included low or no calorie synthetic sweeteners and natural extracts, which may or may not be chemically modified, such as acesulfame K, aspartame, advantame, cyclamates, neotame, saccharin, sucralose, stevia and stevia derivatives, WHO said.
Many people consider stevia products to be more “natural,” since they are derived from the stevia plant. Some natural and artificial sweeteners add bulking sugars to their products to cut their sweetness and add bulk to the product for baking.
A recent study by researchers at the US-based Cleveland Clinic found erythritol — used to add bulk or sweeten stevia, monkfruit and keto reduced-sugar products — was linked to blood clotting, stroke, heart attack and early death.
People with existing risk factors for heart disease, such as diabetes, were twice as likely to experience a heart attack or stroke if they had the highest levels of erythritol in their blood, the study found.