- Artificial sweeteners like stevia are gaining popularity
- A WHO commissioned research review seems inconclusive
- Review authors looked at effects on BMI and blood sugar levels
A number of products claiming to be 'sugar-free' and healthier alternatives to popular sugary foods like sodas, cakes and muffins are flooding the market. The increase in the demand for these products which claim to have 'zero sugar content' and added artificial sweeteners is due to their promise of weight loss and good health. But studies and research have repeatedly indicated that these claims by these product brands may be exaggerated at best and completely falsified at worst. Now a new review of research on the health effects of consumption of 'non-sugar sweeteners' showed that they may not help in weight loss or other health benefits, but that there was no harm in using them. The review analysis was published the journal BMJ.
The review analysis was commissioned by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and was aimed at coming up with guidelines or a framework for the use of Non Sugar Sweeteners or NSS. Some of the commonly used or popular NSS include stevia and aspartame. Talking about previous research on the health effects of artificial sweeteners, the review said, "So far, several studies on the effects of NSSs on different health outcomes have been conducted. However, their methodological or reporting quality is mostly limited and often not sufficiently detailed to include their results in meta-analyses." The authors of the study indicated that they didn't have sufficient data to efficiently analyse the harms and benefits of NSS. However, the analysis indicated that artificial sweeteners may not be very effective helping people get rid of weight issues and high blood sugar.
Two studies conducted among 174 participants showed an insignificant reduction in blood sugar levels, after the use of NSS. Some studies included in the analysis suggested that artificial sweeteners may have some positive impact on Body Mass Index (BMI) but they did not help adult and children patients of obesity, who were trying to lose weight. On the other hand, a data from four different randomised trials indicated that people who consumed artificial sweeteners, consumed 254 calories lesser in a day, than those who consumed sugar.
The authors indicated that more focused research will be better able to firmly establish the health effects of non-sugar or artificial sweeteners on body weight and other markers of our health.
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