The bitter truth about artificial sweeteners

Source: The post is based on the article “The bitter truth about artificial sweeteners ” published in Livemint on 23rd May 2023

What is the News?

Artificial sweeteners have emerged as the go-to substitute for Indians who want to indulge their sweet tooth in a ‘healthy’ way. 

However, the World Health Organization (WHO) has cautioned against freely replacing sugar with non-sugar substitutes.

What does WHO say about the use of Non-Sugar Sweeteners(NSS) or artificial sweeteners?

artificial sweeteners
Source: Livemint

Non Sugar Sweeteners(NSS) are sugar substitutes made from chemicals that have little-to-no calories and are generally marketed as aiding weight loss, maintenance of healthy weight and controlling blood glucose in individuals with diabetes. 

WHO has said that higher, long-term intake of NSS causes an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and mortality.

Must read: Are artificial sweeteners harmful for your health? Here’s what the WHO has recommended

How much are artificial sweeteners consumed in India?

The sugar and sweetener sector in India grew 4% in volume terms in 2022, with the market expected to grow at an average annual pace of 2.6% in value terms in the next four years.

Around 13.2 million tonnes of sugar and sweeteners were sold in India last year. Hence, it is no surprise that diet-related Non-communicable diseases(NCDs) such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases are rising quickly in the country with the health ministry estimating a $3.5 trillion loss to economic output due to NCDs between 2012 and 2030.

What does FSSAI have to say about artificial sweeteners?

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has allowed five artificial sweeteners saccharin sodium, aspartame, acesulfame potassium, sucralose and neotame-—for use by the food industry and listed maximum permitted levels. 

These are used in items such as juices, beverages, Sweets, chewing gum and confectionery. Currently, every ad for sugar-free items has to state the names of artificial sweeteners it contains.

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