Do sugar replacements help you lose weight? Check out what WHO says.
If you want to lose weight and stop eating sugar, you should avoid sugar substitutes. The World Health Organization (WHO) said Monday that non-sugar sweeteners (NSS) “do not confer any long-term benefit in reducing body fat in adults or children.”
Director of the WHO’s Department of Nutrition and Food Safety, Francesco Branca, said, “Replacing free sugars with sweets that don’t contain sugar doesn’t help people control their weight in the long run. We did see a slight decrease in body weight in the short run, but it won’t last.
“The advice is for everyone except those who already have diabetes,” he said.
“That’s because the review of the studies included people with diabetes, so a judgment couldn’t be made,” he said.
The review showed that long-term use of sugar substitutes could have “potentially undesirable effects,” such as a slight rise in the risk of type 2 diabetes and heart diseases.
NSS are goods that are used often and can be found in drinks and foods that have already been packaged. These, too, are used directly by the customers.
The WHO’s 2015 standards said that a person shouldn’t get less than 10% of their daily calories from sugar. According to the review, this made people want sugar alternatives even more.
Ian Johnson, emeritus fellow at the Quadram Institute Bioscience in Norwich, UK, said, “This new guideline is based on a thorough review of the latest scientific literature, and it emphasizes that using artificial sweeteners is not a good way to lose weight by reducing the amount of calories you eat.”
“However, this shouldn’t be taken as a sign that sugar intake has nothing to do with weight control,” Johnson said in a statement, adding that people should instead cut back on sugary drinks.
WHO’s Branca said, “The guidance is for government health organizations in countries that may want to use the scientific analysis to change policies for their citizens.”
Randomized controlled trials and observational studies were both part of the 283 studies that were looked at in the review.
The study implied that the trials showed that using NSS had less of an effect on weight and calorie intake than sugar, with “no change in intermediate markers of diabetes such as glucose and insulin.”
In the observational research, there was also a small effect on body weight and fat tissue, but there was no change in the amount of calories eaten.
But the chance of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, and death from heart disease is only slightly higher, the report said. The risk of bladder cancer and early death from any cause was also the same.
WHO said, “The recommendation was ‘conditional’ because the link found between sweeteners and disease outcomes could be messed up by the complicated ways people use sweeteners and the kinds of people who took part in the study.”
International Sweeteners Association (ISA), an industry group, told CNN, “It is a disservice not to recognize the public health benefits of low- or no-calorie sweeteners, and it is disappointing that the WHO’s conclusions are mostly based on low-certainty evidence from observational studies, which have a high risk of reverse causality.”
“Food and drink companies have changed the way their products are made as part of a global, all-encompassing effort to meet public health recommendations for less sugar,” said ISA.
“Low- or no-calorie sweeteners have made this possible and, in the long run, help make food environments healthier by letting people enjoy food and drinks with less sugar and fewer calories that still taste good to them.”