WHO: Don't Use Sugar Substitutes to Lose Weight

Artificial sweetener industry argues the findings
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted May 15, 2023 4:40 PM CDT
Industry Takes Issue With WHO on Sugar Substitutes
Packets of sugar and sugar substitutes.   (Getty/mirror-images)

Reducing the amount of sugar in diets is a good idea for everyone, especially those trying to lose weight, the World Health Organization says—but using a sugar substitute is not. A review of available data shows that the use of non-sugar sweeteners "does not confer any long-term benefit in reducing body fat in adults or children," the WHO said Monday. Over the long run, the use of sugar substitutes could have detrimental effects such as increasing the risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, the organization said. The artificial sweetener industry argued the WHO's conclusions, CNN reports.

The Calorie Control Council, which represents low-calorie food and beverage makers, criticized the WHO's emphasis on weight gain, saying the advice ignored the benefits of non-sugar sweeteners for people with diabetes. The International Sweeteners Association, whose members include Pepsi, said it stands with government organizations around the world that questioned the advice, per MarketWatch. Australia's health department cautioned that "the recommendation may result in undesirable health outcomes for some individuals." The agency said the WHO did not consider all available evidence and so could provide only a "conditional recommendation."

The WHO's guidance "should not be interpreted as an indication that sugar intake has no relevance to weight-control," a nutritional researcher said. The WHO suggested a different approach. "NSS are not essential dietary factors and have no nutritional value," said Francesco Branca, director for nutrition and food safety, in the agency's news release. "People should reduce the sweetness of the diet altogether, starting early in life, to improve their health." (More World Health Organization stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.