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WHO advises against use non-sugar sweeteners for weight control

The World Health Organization (WHO) has released new guidelines on non-sugar sweeteners (NSS). They recommend against using NSS for weight control or reducing the risk of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs). This is based on evidence that NSS doesn't help reduce body fat in the long term and may even have undesirable effects, such as an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

Francesco Branca, WHO Director for Nutrition and Food Safety, advises people to reduce their free sugar intake by consuming naturally sweet foods like fruit or unsweetened food and beverages. He also suggests reducing the overall sweetness of one's diet to improve health.

This recommendation applies to all synthetic and naturally occurring non-nutritive sweeteners, except for individuals with pre-existing diabetes. It does not apply to personal care products containing NSS or low-calorie sugars and sugar alcohols.

Because the link observed in the evidence between NSS and disease outcomes might be confounded by baseline characteristics of study participants and complicated patterns of NSS use, the recommendation has been assessed as conditional, following WHO processes for developing guidelines. This signals that policy decisions based on this recommendation may require substantive discussion in specific country contexts, linked for example to the extent of consumption in different age groups.
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