We humans always want to survive and that is why we adapt to every problem we face in our lives. To do this, we take a middle ground and an example of this practice is the intake of artificial sweeteners to get the taste of sugar without consuming one. This has long been a go-to product for many people looking to prevent weight gain or diabetes. But the World Health Organization (WHO) in its recent guideline on non-sugar sweeteners (NSS) recommends that we should avoid such things to control our body weight or to reduce the risk of this non-communicable disease.
The suggestion is based on the findings of a systematic review of the existing research and studies, which shows that the use of NSS has no long-term benefit in terms of lowering body fat in adults or children. The review’s findings also imply that long-term use of NSS may have unintended consequences, such as an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and mortality in adults.
“NSS are not essential dietary factors and have no nutritional value,” said Francesco Branca, WHO director for nutrition and food safety. It is also advised that people consume foods with naturally occurring sugar sweeteners or unsweetened foods or drinks to reduce free sugar absorption in our body. Some common examples of NSS are Acesulfame K, Aspartame, Advantame, Cyclamates, Neotame, Saccharin, Sucralose, Stevia and its derivatives.
These recommendations should be taken as a precaution, as excessive consumption of sugar or sweets is often associated with weight gain, obesity, and conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. According to figures from the World Health Organization, non-communicable diseases are responsible for 74 percent of all deaths worldwide, killing a significant number of people each year.
This guideline does not apply to personal care and hygiene products containing NSS, such as toothpaste, skin care, medicines or low-calorie sugars.
It is therefore important for us to avoid artificial sweeteners and rather focus on exercise and following a balanced diet to prevent diabetes.