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According to a recent WHO recommendation, sweeteners replacing sugar do not help with weight loss.
HEALTH – Aspartame, stevia, or even saccharin: generally, these artificial sweeteners are used as sugar substitutes, whether they are sold as ingredients in their own right or included in everyday food products.
However, the World Health Organization (WHO) published on Monday May 15 a new recommendation in which she warns against their use: not only do they not allow you to lose weight, but they are also potentially dangerous for your health. According to the organization, prolonged use of sweeteners can “have potential adverse effects” such as an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and mortality in adults.
Sweeteners, not essential to the diet
The most common sweeteners on the food market are acesulfame potassium, aspartame, advantame, cyclamates, neotame, saccharin, sucralose, stevia and its derivatives.
According to Francesco Branca, director of nutrition and food security at the WHO, they are not essential to the diet and have no nutritional value. ” People should completely reduce the sweet taste in their diet, from an early age, to improve their health “, he underlines.
« People should consider other ways to reduce their sugar intake, such as eating foods with natural sugar, such as fruit, or unsweetened foods and drinks “, continues Francesco Branca.
A conditional recommendation
The recommendation is valid “for everyone except individuals with pre-existing diabetes,” says WHO. It nevertheless specifies that these are conditional recommendations due to the diversity of the participants in the studies which served as a basis for its conclusions, as well as the very great complexity of the consumption habits of sugar-free sweeteners.
Moreover, some nutrition experts have pointed out the limits to this work, which is largely based on observational studies that do not allow a direct link to be established between sweeteners and weight control.
According to Professor Nita Forouhi of the University of Cambridge, “the use of sweeteners can be part of the means of controlling weight in the short term”. “The key thing to remember is that for long-term weight management and for chronic conditions like type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, sweeteners are not recommended”she explains to the Science Media Center.
The Nutri-Score adapts to sweeteners
The WHO does not take into account the impact of replacing sugary drinks with drinks containing sweeteners, points out Tom Sanders, professor emeritus at King’s College London, worrying about a risk of confusion in the minds of the population.
The method of calculating the Nutri-Score, the nutritional labeling imposed in France and other European countries, will thus change from the end of 2023, for example, to recommend beverages containing sweeteners less readily.
In September 2022, a French study published in the British Medical Journal also linked sweetener consumption to increased risk of cardiovascular disease. In nine years of follow-up of a group of more than 100,000 people, 1,502 cardiovascular events had occurred (heart attacks, angina pectoris, angioplasties, strokes, etc.).
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