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Non-sugar sweeteners raise risk of diabetes, heart diseases: WHO

Non-sugar sweeteners (NSS) do not provide any long-term benefits for adults or children seeking to lose body fat, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said in a newly released guideline.

WHO recommends people refrain from using NSS to control body weight or reduce the risk of noncommunicable diseases, reported United Press International (UPI).

Moreover, using non-sugar sweeteners with the aim of losing weight could increase the risk of Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and mortality in adults.

Yesterday’s findings are based on a “systematic review of the available evidence which suggests that use of NSS does not confer any long-term benefit in reducing body fat in adults or children,” the organisation said.

The recommendation applies to everyone except adults already suffering from pre-existing diabetes. Guidelines extend to most common sugar substitutes including aspartame, stevia and stevia derivatives.

“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,” WHO director for nutrition and food safety Francesco Branca said in a statement.

“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.”

The recommendation is currently assessed as conditional and does not apply to things such as toothpaste and skin creams.

WHO is in the midst of issuing a series of dietary guidelines and recommendations to reduce the increase of noncommunicable diseases worldwide.

A 2019 study by German researchers found only weak evidence the no-calorie sweeteners provided any benefits to children or adults looking to lose weight.