International experts develop a consensus on sweeteners as a substitute for sugar
Posted: 04 July 2017
experts in food, nutrition, dietetics, endocrinology, physical activity,
paediatrics, nursing and public health have met in Lisbon to develop a
consensus on low or non-calorie sweeteners used as substitutes for sugar and
other high calorie sweeteners
Yesterday and today, a total of 67 experts have analysed the
role of these sweeteners in food safety, their regulation and the nutritional
and dietary aspects of their use in foods and beverages.
This event was organised by the Spanish Foundation for
Nutritional Research (FIN) with the collaboration of the Lusófona University of
Lisbon and with the support of 42 organisations and foundations specialised in
nutrition and dietetics, medical societies, universities and research centres
in Europe and Latin America.
The goal of FIN, according to the organizers, is to review and
communicate the aspects relating to the safety and benefits of low or
non-calorie sweeteners as sugar substitutes.
FIN aims to contribute with this consensus to the reduction of
the consumption of added sugars in food and beverages, in the context of the
prevention and treatment of obesity and related diseases.
Low or non-calorie sweeteners are used in a variety of products
by the food and beverage industry, such as in ice cream, milk shakes, fruit and
vegetable-based drinks, juices, yoghurt, soft drinks, cookies, chewing gum,
candy, and even in pharmaceutical products.
The Chairman of FIN, Lluís Serra-Majem, professor of Preventive
Medicine and Public Health, Director of the Research Institute of Biomedical
and Health Research of the University of Las Palmas, is one of the directors of
the meeting and contributor to the consensus.
"Sweeteners have been
safely used by consumers all over the world for more than a century; they do
constitute an element of undoubted and topical interest, for which, however,
there is a certain lack of knowledge in some sectors of the population and in
some academic fields," he said.
The co-director of the meeting, Nutritionst at Coimbra
Children’s Hospital, Sergio Cunha Velho de Sousa, stated that: "Low or non-calorie sweeteners offer people
with diabetes alternatives to enjoy sweet tastes without increasing glucose in
"The majority of
studies that investigate the role of these sweeteners" - added this
nutritionist- "have shown that
replacing food and beverages for versions with less calories, or none at all,
can lead to a reduction of overall energy intake and play a significant role in
France Bellisle, senior researcher at the Nutritional
Epidemiology Unit of the University of Paris 13, highlighted that "these sweeteners are used to maintain the
sweet taste of foods and beverages without adding the caloric load of sugar".
Obtaining authorisation for a new low or non-calorie sweetener is
a long and scientifically rigorous process, the note by FIN said, adding:
"The applicants can only ask for the
approval of a low or non-calorie sweetener after having subjected it to
stringent tests and providing evidence on the safety and utility of the product".