The World Health Organisation (WHO) has recommended that people avoid using sweeteners for weight control.
Low or no calorie sweeteners are used instead of sugar to sweeten a variety of foods and drinks.
Many people also add non-sugar sweeteners (NSS) to their own food and beverages as a sugar alternative, with the aim to prevent becoming overweight or obese.
Now, the WHO has found using sweeteners “does not confer any long-term benefit in reducing body fat in adults or children”.
Although using NSS in the short-term may lead to minor weight loss, there could be “undesirable effects” linked to long-term use, such as an increased risk of type two diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and death, the WHO said.
“NSS are not essential dietary factors and have no nutritional value,” Francesco Branca, director for nutrition and food safety at the WHO warned.
“People need to consider other ways to reduce free sugars intake, such as consuming food with naturally occurring sugars, like fruit, or unsweetened food and beverages.
“People should reduce the sweetness of the diet altogether, starting early in life, to improve their health.”
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The organisation reviewed the data from 283 studies conducted in adults, children, pregnant women or mixed populations.
As a result, it released a new conditional guideline recommending people – except those with diabetes – to avoid using NSS to control body weight or reduce the risk of non-communicable (non-infectious) diseases.
But authors said further research is needed.
Dr Duane Mellor, registered dietitian and senior lecturer at Aston Medical School, said sweeteners may still have a place as a “stepping stone” to help people reduce their sugar intake.
Meanwhile, Cadbury says it is “working hard” to produce alternative 75% less sugar, fat and lower calorie versions of products.
The popular chocolate brand first revealed last year that they were working on releasing low-calorie versions of some of its existing chocolate bars and biscuits and creating new products.
In a statement to Sky News, the brand’s US owner Mondelez, said: “We have no plans to change the original recipe of the existing bars, but we believe it’s important to give consumers choice.”
Dirk van de Put, chief executive of Mondelez, reportedly told The Sunday Telegraph: “It’s going to be a bit like diet drinks and grow very slowly, but we need to keep it on the market.
“It’s going to take a while before the consumer really takes to that because it still is not quite exactly the same taste – although it is getting close.”
In previous years, Cadbury launched a 30% lower sugar version of its Dairy Milk chocolate bar. However, the product did not prove popular with customers.
Other products to follow suit have included Maynards Bassetts Wine Gums and Belvita biscuits.
This story originally appeared on Skynews