ISA response to Anses report

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Brussels 14 January 2015: The International Sweeteners Association (ISA) acknowledges the work conducted by the ANSES scientific panel (French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety) on the evaluation of “nutritional risks and benefits of low calorie sweeteners”, but is disappointed that the conclusions fail to support the wealth of sound science available highlighting the role and benefits of low calorie sweeteners, as a weight management tool.

Dr Pierre Azam, a prominent French general practitioner and endocrinologist, President of Obobs, the French Obesity Observatory, and a member of the ISA scientific panel of experts, confirms that low calorie sweeteners provide useful alternative food options for patients: “low calorie sweeteners can be integrated in a global approach for weight and diabetes management, as they enable to avoid frustration and thereby allow better adherence to therapeutical treatment. I strongly believe that by providing sweetness, a source of pleasure, without the calories, low calorie sweeteners can be part of the solution for patients who want to control their weight or diabetes.”

The ANSES report1 recognises the safety of low calorie sweeteners and endorses EFSA’s findings confirming that low calorie sweeteners “have no effect on carbohydrate metabolism or short or long term blood glucose” and “can not be fermented by oral bacteria”, and thereby can “help maintain healthy teeth”.2

With particular reference to the benefits of consuming low calorie sweetened beverages and weight management, a study3 led by leading obesity research experts Prof John Peters and Prof James Hill, conducted on a sample of 303 people over a three-month period, provided some very insightful results. People who drank low calorie beverages lost 44 percent more weight – an average of 5.95kg over 12 weeks – than those in the water control group, only lost an average of 4.09kg over the same period. The group that drank low calorie beverages also reported feeling less hungry than the water control group.

Dr Hervé Nordmann, Chair of the ISA Scientific & Regulatory Committee, states: “Low calorie sweetened options are not what we would call ‘magic bullets’. However when used as part of a balanced diet, they can prove to be valuable alternative to sweet taste of sugar without the calories or impact on blood glucose levels”. He adds “Given the challenges to public health of the consequences of overweight, low calorie sweeteners have a role to play. The body of science which exists to support the benefits of low calorie sweeteners is already significant, and is growing all the time.”

  1. Evaluation of nutritional risks and benefits of low calorie sweeteners. ANSES opinion, scientific panel report. November 2014
  3. The effects of water and non-nutritive sweetened beverages on weight loss during a 12-week weight loss treatment program. Peters JC et al. (2014), Obesity, 22(6), 1415-21