The World Health Organization Just Issued a Warning About Artificial Sugar

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In this day and age, it seems that new, “healthy” alternatives are popping up on the daily, each with new ingredients that claim to be more beneficial to our health. One of the most popular ingredient swaps of the last several years is undoubtedly that of artificial sugar, which many people opt for on account of weight loss intentions and more. But, this week, the World Health Organization issued a warning against the continued consumption of artificial sugar.

WHO’s warning emphasized the potential health risks of repeated consumption of these sugar alternatives, explaining that the sweeteners should not necessarily be used for weight control or disease prevention, as they can actually increase the risk for health issues in the future. The organization’s recommendation is based of of findings that showed that the use of non-sugar sweeteners (NSS) “does not confer any long-term benefit in reducing body fat in adults or children” and also suggests the “potential undesirable effects from long-term use of NSS, such as an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and mortality in adults.”

“Replacing free sugars with NSS does not help with weight control in the long term,” explains WHO director of nutrition and food safety, Francesco Branco, noting that “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.” Branco also explains that “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.”

In terms of who is most effected by this latest warning, WHO stated that this applies to all people with the exception of individuals with pre-existing diabetes, and that the implications of these findings apply to “all synthetic and naturally occurring or modified non-nutritive sweeteners that are not classified as sugars found in manufactured foods and beverages, or sold on their own to be added to foods and beverages by consumers.”

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