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WHO says not to use non-sugar sweeteners for weight control

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has published a new guideline on the use of non-sugar sweeteners intended to help inform the development of public health policies and programs.

The guideline recommends against the use of non-sugar sweeteners (NSS) to control body weight or reduce the risk for non-communicable diseases. This is based on a systematic review of the available evidence which suggests NSS do not confer any long-term benefit for reducing body fat in adults or children, and there may be undesirable effects from their long-term use such as increased risk for type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and overall mortality.

The recommendation applies to everyone except those with diabetes, and applies to all synthetic, naturally occurring or modified non-nutritive sweeteners, including acesulfame K, aspartame, advantame, cyclamates, neotame, saccharin, sucralose, stevia and stevia derivatives. 

Following the WHO guideline development process, this recommendation has been assessed as conditional due to the possibility of confounding in the evidence. This means individual countries need to consider their specific population and consumption levels when developing policies and programs.

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