Health Sector – UHC, National Health Policy, Family Planning, Health Insurance, etc.

WHO’s advisory on Non-Sugar Sweeteners


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Non-Sugar Sweeteners

Mains level : Read the attached story


Central Idea: The World Health Organization (WHO) issued new guidelines advising against the use of non-sugar sweeteners (NSS) as a healthy alternative to sugar.

What are Non-Sugar Sweeteners?

  • NSS are low or no-calorie alternatives to sugar, including aspartame, saccharin, stevia, and others.
  • They are marketed for weight loss and controlling blood glucose in individuals with diabetes.

WHO’s Finding

  • The WHO analyzed 283 studies on NSS intake in adults and children.
  • Higher intake of NSS was associated with a 76% increase in obesity risk and a 0.14 kg/m2 increase in BMI.
  • No evidence of long-term benefits on reducing body fat was found, and long-term use of NSS may increase the risk of Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, chronic kidney disease, and cancer.
  • WHO suggests that NSS should not be used for weight control or reducing the risk of diet-related non-communicable diseases.

Concerns and Recommendations

  • India has a high obesity rate and a significant number of people with pre-diabetes.
  • Lifestyle-related Type 2 diabetes is increasing among young individuals.
  • WHO recommends focusing on a balanced diet and minimally processed, unsweetened foods and beverages.

What lies ahead?

  • WHO’s conditional guideline requires further discussions among policymakers before adoption as national policy.
  • Efforts should be made to educate youngsters about taste preferences and healthy eating habits.
  • Doctors can now provide more confident guidance to patients regarding NSS consumption.


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