WHO advises against non-sugar sweeteners

A new guideline from the World Health Organization (WHO) on non-sugar sweeteners (NSSs) recommends not using them to control weight or reduce the risk of diabetes, heart disease or cancer. These sweeteners include aspartame, acesulfame K, advantame, saccharine, sucralose, stevia, and stevia derivatives.

The recommendation is based on the findings of a systematic review that collected data from 283 studies in adults, children, pregnant women, and mixed populations.

The survey findings suggested that use of NSSs does not confer any long-term benefit in reducing body fat in adults or children and also suggested that the long-term use of NSSs may have potential undesirable effects, such as the increased risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and all-cause mortality in adults. Indeed, results from case-control studies suggest an association between saccharine intake and bladder cancer (albeit very low certainty evidence). Finally, results for pregnant women suggest that higher NSS intake is associated with increased risk for preterm birth (low certainty evidence) and possibly adiposity in offspring (very low certainty evidence).

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