The World Health Organization (WHO) recently issued a new guideline on non-sugar sweeteners (NSS), cautioning against their use for weight control or reducing the risk of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs). In a systematic review released on Monday, May 15, the WHO found that the long-term use of NSS does not offer any benefits in terms of reducing body fat in both adults and children. ALSO READ: The bitter truth about artificial sweeteners Moreover, the review suggests that prolonged consumption of NSS may have adverse effects, including an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and mortality among adults. Francesco Branca, WHO Director for Nutrition and Food Safety, highlights that replacing free sugars with NSS is an ineffective strategy for long-term weight control. Instead, individuals are encouraged to explore other methods of reducing sugar intake, such as consuming fruits with naturally occurring sugars or opting for unsweetened food and beverages. ALSO READ: Govt launches new antenatal care guidelines Branca emphasizes that NSS lack nutritional value and are not essential dietary components, thus advocating for an overall reduction in dietary sweetness, starting from early life, to promote better health outcomes. The guideline applies to all individuals, except those with pre-existing diabetes, and covers both synthetic and naturally occurring or modified non-nutritive sweeteners. Commonly found in processed food and beverages, NSS examples include acesulfame K, aspartame, advantame, cyclamates, neotame, saccharin, sucralose, stevia, and stevia derivatives. It is important to note that the recommendation does not apply to personal care and hygiene products containing NSS, such as toothpaste, skin cream, and medications. Additionally, low-calorie sugars and sugar alcohols (polyols), which do contain calories and are not classified as NSS, are also exempt from this guideline. ALSO READ: Sugar and salt: Your enemies on the dining table Since the link between NSS and disease outcomes may be influenced by various factors and complex usage patterns, the recommendation is considered conditional. Policymakers should engage in extensive discussions within specific country contexts, taking into account consumption patterns among different age groups. The WHO's guideline on NSS is part of a broader set of existing and upcoming guidelines on healthy diets, aiming to establish lifelong healthy eating habits, improve dietary quality, and mitigate the risk of NCDs worldwide. By providing evidence-based recommendations, WHO seeks to promote healthier dietary choices and enhance public health outcomes globally.