Using sugar substitutes does not help with weight loss, says WHO report

  • A recent report from the World Health Organization advises against the use of sugar substitutes for weight loss.
  • The review found that the use of sugar-free sweeteners “provides no long-term benefit in reducing body fat in adults or children”.
  • Nutritionists explain what this new report means for you.

If you try to losing weightthere is a lot of diets who encourage you to reduce sugar. And if you have a gourmand, you’ve probably explored replacing sugar with artificial sweeteners. But according to a new report from the World Health Organization (WHO), eating popular sugar substitutes may not help with weight loss.

The recent WHO report reviewed over 283 studies and the effects of consuming sugar substitutes such as acesulfame K, advantame, aspartame, cyclamate, neotame, saccharin, steviol glycosides, sucralose.

The review found that the use of sugar-free sweeteners, or NSS, “provides no long-term benefit in reducing body fat in adults or children.” The WHO also concluded that a higher intake of NSS was associated with increased body weight and an increased risk of Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular illnessesand all-cause mortality.

Wait, why shouldn’t you use sugar substitutes if you’re trying to lose weight?

Sugar substitutes are useful for replacing both sugar and calories in sweets and drinks, which can be helpful for people who are losing weight, says Melissa Perst, DCN, RDNnational media spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and member of the Prevention medical examination board. “However, sugar substitutes alone will not lead to weight loss without making other changes like increasing activity and the way you do [up] your plate.

There are still no ideal shortcuts to losing weight with long-term benefits, says Jackie Newgent, RDN, CDNforward-thinking nutritionist, chef and author of The Herbal Diabetes Cookbook. “If sugar-free sweeteners or ‘sugar substitutes’ were the answer to weight loss, most of us would be pretty skinny right now.”

What should people at risk of type 2 diabetes or trying to lose weight do instead?

If you’re trying to lose weight or are at risk for type 2 diabetes, there are still options to satisfy your sweet tooth while limiting sugar and artificial sweeteners. According to Perst, you can “look for ways to replace refined carbs with whole grains and replace sugary foods like cereal and yogurt with unsweetened versions.” We tend to eat larger portions of carbohydrate-rich foods like rice, pasta and other grains on the plate, adds Perst, so try replacing half of those foods with low-carb vegetables. carbohydrates.

If you’re looking for smoothness, Newgent advises first determining whether fruit, fruit puree or 100% pure fruit juice may be the answer you are looking for, at mealtimes, snacks or in your kitchen or baking. But it can also raise blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes and contains natural sugars. And, it is important to note that people with diabetes were not included in this review.

Beyond dietary changes, remember to move your body for 30 to 60 minutes a day and get enough sleep at night, Perst reminds. “Adults should sleep 7-9 hours a night.”

What does this new WHO report mean?

The WHO recommendation is conditional, which means that the evidence included in the statement, which was not all the research that has been done on sugar substitutes and weight loss, has shown that there is little to no benefit from using sugar substitutes for weight loss, Perst notes. “However, the evidence used to make their statement may not be strong enough or of high enough quality for the recommendation to become public health policy without review and comment from key stakeholders and consultants – meaning it has yet to there should be a review of the statement by others before recommending everyone to reduce or stop using sugar substitutes.

One of the key takeaways from the WHO recommendation is that people reduce their intake of added sugar by improving the overall quality of their diet, not just by using sugar substitutes in place of sugar in foods. highly processed foods, continues Perst. “If the focus is only on replacing sugar with sugar substitutes and no other changes are made, such as using whole grains instead of refined grains or more vegetables in the plate, then there is not much change or improvement in the quality of the diet.”

It’s also important to note that this WHO report is not a “permission” to eat more sugar, Newgent says. “This is selective evidence that sugar substitutes may not be as helpful as people think.”

The bottom line

There is plenty of good-quality research that shows sugar substitutes may be helpful for certain groups of people, notes Perst. Still, “Don’t rely on sugar substitutes to improve the quality of your diet – everyone should find ways to reduce sugars in their diets by choosing more minimally processed whole foods and less refined and ultra-processed foods. .”

Newgent agrees, saying you should always be careful about overindulging in added sugars, of course. And when it comes to research, evidence continues to show that enjoying “real” or “healthy” foods — especially lots of plants — is the best way to eat healthy and maintain a healthy weight, adds- she.

Magdalene, Preventionassociate editor of , has a history with health writing from her experience as an editorial assistant at WebMD and her personal research at university. She graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in biopsychology, cognition, and neuroscience — and she helps strategize for success across Preventionsocial media platforms.

Using sugar substitutes does not help with weight loss, says WHO report

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