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Sugar Substitutes Don’t Aid in Weight Loss, Warns WHO

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Sugar Substitute sweetener in a packet and cup of tea on table

If you are like 95% of Americans, you are trying to lose weight or have tried to lose weight in the last 5 years. That’s how common weight loss struggles are in America. And one of the biggest culprits continues to be excessive sugar consumption.

If you think you have found a loophole to continue to satisfy your sugar cravings via sugar substitutes, the World Health Organization has a warning for you. “Replacing free sugars with non-sugar sweeteners does not help people control their weight long-term,” said Francesco Branca, director of WHO’s department of nutrition and food safety. “We did see a mild reduction of body weight in the short term, but it’s not going to be sustained.”

These sugar subsists are often found in processed foods that are advertised as sugar free. They are also directly added to foods and drinks by consumers trying to avoid sugar.

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WHO looked at a total of 283 studies in their review. What the results of the randomized trials show is that non-sugar sweeteners had a “low” impact on reduction body weight when compared to sugar. “This new guideline is based on a through assessment of the latest scientific literature, and it emphasizes that the use of artificial sweeteners is not a good strategy for achieving weight loss by reducing dietary energy intakes,” according to nutrition researcher Ian Jonson, emeritus fellow at Quadram Institute Bioscience.

In response to the latest recommendations from WHO, the International Sweeteners Association said, “it is a disservice to not recognize the public health benefits of low/no calories sweeteners and is disappointed that the WHO’s conclusions are largely based on low certainty evidence from observational studies, which are at high risk of reverse causality.”