New WHO Guideline on Artificial Sweeteners

I suppose that everyone has already seen this ( WHO advises not to use non-sugar sweeteners for weight control in newly released guideline ), but in a new guideline from May 15, 2023 the WHO seems very unenthusiastic about artificial sweeteners. Some long discourse on the subject is available for download.

Please note the words:

“Results of the review also suggest that there may be potential undesirable effects from long-term use of NSS, such as an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and mortality in adults.”

I’m just posting the reference. What to do (or not) is your own decision.

1 Like

Please also note the words:

“The recommendation applies to all people except individuals with pre-existing diabetes”

And no, I am not promoting that Artificial Sweetners are good for diabetics, just trying to be fair to the article.

They will have to pry my Truvia out of my cold tasty, iced tea. JUst saying.

1 Like

I gave up using them several years ago. I decided it was playing games with my metabolism. Essentially eating something sweet where your body expects calories and doesn’t get them and I think it slows your metabolic rate in response.

Mostly though I just don’t use any sweetener and if I want something sweet, I’ll just eat sugar or maple syrup in very small quantities.

It also makes me not crave sweets the way I did when I was eating artificial sweeteners.

I doubt there is any real risk like cancer or something like that, but for me, I just realized I don’t need them.

Use them if you think you need to though

1 Like

I haven’t used artificial sweetner in many years. Since following Mastering Diabetes I have used maple syrup, agave and dates. I learned to drink my coffee and tea black. I try to just eat whole non processed food, but that is just me.


@Marilyn6 ,

A little while ago a lady who had been the editor (I think) of Nature Neuroscience wrote a book called Why Diets Make Us Fat. For many good scientific reasons, she is against weight-loss dieting for almost everyone.

About your post:

One of the suggestions she does make is to avoid ‘processed foods’ as much as is reasonable. The more ‘processed’, the worse.

I take her ideas seriously, after having done some fact-checking myself.

You might want to read her book. I liked it. I think that you can also find free recordings of her TED talks, etc., on the Web.

Good luck in all your endeavors,


@Rphil2 ,

Do you live in the South?

Thanks MapleSugar. I have always heard that weight loss diets don’t work, because as soon as the weight is lost, most people go back to their old ways of eating and gain all the weight and more back.

That’s reasonable, however what if you weigh more than you want to weigh? You will need to restrict calories in order to burn fat. I was at a loss when I started gaining weight when I started pumping, because I had better control and I thought it meant I could eat whatever I wanted. So I gained weight to where I ended up 36 lbs overweight.
I tried everything and I couldn’t lose because it caused my sugar to crash. But then I tried intermittent fasting. It’s not for everyone but I like it. And I’ve been able to lose weight, I have another 17 lbs to go and then I’ll just do it less.

Diets can work if you change your diet to a healthy diet and you are dedicated to eating healthy.
If you are just with holding from yourself and it makes you unhappy, then it won’t work.

I follow mastering diabetes but I consume a tiny bit of dairy and lean meat once a week. And I do 24 hour fasts on the weekends. And I think I could do it for the long haul. We will see after a while


I totally agree, but the majority of people can’t seem to stick to a weight reduction diet. We are constantly bombarded with ads for fast food and junk food. It can be very hard to walk away from good looking food, even if you know that it is bad for you.

If I didn’t have heart stents, I don’t know if I could stick to an extremely healthy way of eating.

Weight loss diets don’t work because their premise is wrong and their onset is extreme.

A successful diet is one that you can eat with minor changes for your entire life. If you want to lose weight, you need to figure out how much you are eating now and either eat a little less of each thing or find substitutes for some things that you enjoy eating as much as the others, but have fewer calories. The trick is to make eating better, not worse, in every way.

By introducing substitutes -not additions- one at a time for your “staples” and reducing your heaviest caloric favorites a little bit in portion size, frequency or both, you will have an ever changing mix of foods to keep eating interesting, enjoyable and satisfying. That changes it from being a habit to an activity that you want to participate in.

The WHO has some valid points.

Nothing that people can put in their mouths that doesn’t reduce hunger can stop them from continuing to eat, so it can’t reduce weight. Artificial sweeteners by their names aren’t compounds that humans evolved to need or use.

But they also unnecessarily misused relative statistics as a justification.

“Results of the review also suggest that there may be potential undesirable effects from long-term use of NSS, such as an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and mortality in adults”.

They increased risk by how much and to whom?

The health risks described are determined by correlations, not proven causation. They are small percentage correlations which are not explicitly stated. That distorts and uses statistics as an irrational scare tactic.

There’s an increased risk of collisions within 5 miles of your home. Should you park 6 miles away from your home and walk there?

There is a 100% correlation between the number of years that a person goes to a doctor and mortality. Should the WHO should suggest not seeing doctors to avoid the undesirable effect of death?

There are times to consider correlations of behavior with desired outcomes and use them when there is a lower correlation with an undesired outcome. But to do so rationally you need actual numbers, understand where they came from and what they objectively mean.

Otherwise you get things like statins being used for primary prevention, because they “reduce heart attacks by 25%”. It never reached 25% absolute incidence for any studied cohort. The total cohort reduction was from ~5% incidence to ~4%, a ~1% absolute reduction. The total of the reported “rare” adverse reactions (above placebo side effects) for the most widely prescribed statin is ~4% (Lipitor insert and FAERS) reports.) Although few of the reactions were identified as fatal, they reduced QOL for nearly the same number of people - a different group that those who had heart attacks- as those who had heart attacks. The most frequent adverse reaction reported to the FDA (16.02%) was - new incidence type 2 diabetes.

That’s not to say that statins might not be helpful for people with clinical evidence of hearty disease, but that the statistics were misapplied to establish statins for preventative care without established benefit for +80% of those people taking the drugs, and negative effects for 4% of them.

Sensible advice, but I weigh 107. I have never had a weight problem.

I have used Splenda for many years,never used saccharine. At almost 71,good numbers,I don’t worry about it.Nancy50

Also allergic to stevia,which is too bad.Nancy50

If your weight is within norms for your frame then the WHOs conclusion that artificial sweeteners have no proven weight loss benefit is as irrelevant, as are their scare tactic risk factors which lack any scientific proof of causation.

For those who are not familiar with risk factors, they are associations. Associations are what scientists use to form hypotheses. Scientists conduct experiments to try to substantiate hypotheses and disprove them. Scientists don’t make life-altering decisions for others based on weak associations, but medical doctors do.

This WHO recommendation isn’t medical advice but the opposite. What the WHO is saying is fact, that there is no objective evidence that artificial sweeteners have any positive effect on weight loss.

Personally I’d like to see far more similar WHO statements on things like dietary saturated fats and “food pyramids”, which are based on very weak scientific evidence to support any “medical opinions”. I’d also like to see public health policies based on providing at least the known minimum required daily amounts of all nutrients needed for health to every person living on earth. But I doubt that either will happen during my lifetime.

No, I live in Indiana, which is above the mason Dixon line and far south of any good reason.