The World Health Organization has released new guidelines advising against the use of sugar substitutes for weight loss. According to the organization, the review of available evidence has shown that the use of non-sugar sweeteners (NSS) does not provide long-term benefits in reducing body fat in adults or children. Instead, long-term use of sugar substitutes may have potential negative effects such as an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The WHO Director of Nutrition and Food Safety has recommended that people completely reduce sweeteners in their diet from an early age to improve their health.
Low or zero-calorie synthetic sweeteners and natural extracts, such as stevia and its derivatives, have been found to contain no nutritional value. A total of 283 studies were included in the review, and the recommendations apply to everyone except those with pre-existing diabetes. The WHO acknowledges that policy decisions based on its recommendation may require significant debate in different countries, such as the extent of consumption among different age groups.
Non-sugar sweeteners are widely used in packaged foods and drinks and are sometimes added directly to food and beverages by consumers. The WHO released guidelines on sugar intake in 2015, recommending that adults and children reduce free sugar intake to less than 10% of total energy intake per day. The new guidelines released focus on reducing sugar substitutes as a means of weight loss.