WHO advises that sweeteners aren’t ideal for weight loss 

Sweeteners like Splenda, Truvia, and Equal are often seen as a good alternative to sugar for weight loss. But, recent guidance from the World Health Organization (WHO) suggests that this may not be the wisest choice. 

According to experts, NSS (non-sugar sweeteners) may not be the ideal solution for those aiming to lose weight, and prolonged consumption of these sweeteners could have health risks.

The WHO experts looked at recent studies examining the impact of NSS on weight loss and the health implications associated with them. The main takeaway was that sustained consumption of artificial sweeteners was correlated with increased weight and body mass index (BMI), as well as other health issues.

Among the most commonly used artificial sweeteners to avoid are aspartame (NutraSweet, Equal, Sugar Twin), stevia (Truvia), saccharin (Sweet and Low), cyclamates, sucralose (Splenda), acesulfame K (Sweet One), neotame, and advantame.

Over a decade, high intake of these products increased the risk of obesity, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular-related mortality, and all-cause mortality. Because of this, the WHO is now advising consumers to steer clear of these sweeteners in their food and beverages, particularly when aiming for weight loss or mitigating long-term disease risks.

However, the guidance comes with two exceptions: people with diabetes are not subject to these recommendations, and personal care and hygiene products containing NSS (such as toothpaste and moisturizer) do not seem to pose long-term health risks.

The guidelines state: “Non-sugar sweeteners are low- or no-calorie alternatives to free sugars that are generally marketed as aiding weight loss or maintenance of healthy weight, and are frequently recommended as a means of controlling blood glucose in individuals with diabetes. Individual sweeteners undergo toxicological assessment to establish safe levels of intake (i.e. acceptable daily intake).

However, there is no clear consensus on whether NSS are effective on long-term weight control or if they are linked to other long-term health effects at habitual intakes within the acceptable daily intake. Replacing free sugars with NSS does not help with weight control in the long term. 

People need to consider other ways to reduce free sugar intake, such as consuming food with naturally occurring sugars, like fruit, or unsweetened food and beverages. 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.” 

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