12th EFAD Conference

The International Sweeteners Association (ISA) is delighted to be supporting and to be present at the 12th EFAD Conference this year. Acknowledging the important role that dietitians play in raising awareness of, and educating people towards a healthy diet, the ISA proudly participates to the EFAD Conference for the fifth consecutive time.

The European Federation of the Associations of Dietitians (EFAD) is organising the 12th EFAD Conference this year in Berlin, Germany, on 1-2 November 2019. Themed as “Breaking Professional Boundaries”, the conference is bringing together dietitians across Europe to discuss the key role of dietitians in multidisciplinary teams, the importance of patient-centred care in developing new standards of dietetic care, as well as latest scientific evidence and the use of new technology in nutrition and dietetic research and care.

ISA activities at EFAD Conference 2019 include an ISA supported symposium with renowned experts who will present the latest evidence on the consumption of low calorie sweeteners as part of a healthy diet as well as an ISA information booth in the exhibition area during the whole duration of the congress.

Read more about the outcomes of the presentations at the ISA symposium in our press release “Low/no calorie sweeteners are safe and have a role to play in food reformulation” by clicking here or in the dedicated, more detailed, article available here.

The ISA information booth will host the ISA resources for healthcare professionals including newly developed materials presenting the latest research about low calorie sweeteners. By visiting the ISA booth, you will have the opportunity to receive a print copy of the new ISA booklet entitled “Low calorie sweeteners: Role and benefits – A guide to the science of low calorie sweeteners, as well as further resources for health professionals, including the recently created ISA infographics on benefits of low calorie sweeteners.

With November being the month dedicated to raising diabetes awareness, dietitians are invited to visit the ISA booth for a preview of the video developed for World Diabetes Day (WDD) 2019. This video and further online and printed materials for WDD 2019 are being developed by the ISA and with the scientific support of the EFAD’s European Specialist Dietetic Network (ESDN) for Diabetes. Delegates visiting the ISA booth will also have the opportunity to receive copies of printed infographics developed for previous editions of World Diabetes Day.

Furthermore, please do take the opportunity to participate in our new 5-minute survey and enter a prize draw to win a smart watch to help you track your heart rate, sleep, activity and overall fitness level. Your feedback counts, so your scientific interests and views in relation to low calorie sweeteners and the ISA are of highest importance to us.

We therefore look forward to welcoming you all at the ISA information booth at the EFAD 2019 exhibition area during the whole duration of the congress, to answer any question you might have in relation to low calorie sweeteners’ use, benefits and role in the diet.

With sugar reduction being a key public health objective, there is an increased interest from the scientific and consumer communities in the use of low calorie sweeteners as part of a healthy diet. In this context, the ISA is delighted to announce a highly interesting programme for the ISA-supported symposium at EFAD Conference 2019, which will take place on 1st November 2019, from 11h00 to 12h30pm (Room MOA 1-2).

During this session, invited speakers, who have conducted research in related areas, will discuss: 1) the evidence evaluated by regulatory authorities in the process of low calorie sweeteners’ safety assessment; 2) emerging science around diet, low calorie sweeteners and gut microbiota; and 3) recent recommendations about sweeteners’ intake in the context of obesity and diabetes.

Please find below information about the scientific programme and the experts contributing with talks to the ISA supported symposium:

Friday, 1st November 2019, 11h00-12h30
Symposium title: “Low calorie sweeteners in the diet: Safety, emerging research and nutrition recommendations
Chairs: Dr Grigoris Risvas (Greece) and Manuel Moñino (Spain)

  • 11h00 – 11h25: “Safety assessment and approval of low calorie sweeteners: what type of evidence needs to be evaluated?” – Speaker: Prof Dominique Parent Massin (Professor in Toxicology, French Academy of Agriculture, France)
  • 11h25 – 11h50: “Low calorie sweeteners and gut microbiota: a review of animal and human studies” – Speaker: Prof Ian Rowland (Professor in Microbiology, Univ. of Reading, UK)
  • 11h50 – 12h15: “Recommendations about intake of sugars and low calorie sweeteners: impact on obesity and diabetes epidemics” – Speaker: Dr Margaret Ashwell (OBE, DSc, PhD, FAfN, RNutr(Public Health), UK)
  • 12h15 – 12h30: Q&As session facilitated by Dr Grigoris Risvas, Public Health Dietitian (Greece), EFAD Vice President and Manuel Moñino Public Health Dietitian (Spain), ESDN Public Health Leader

For more information about the EFAD Conference 2019 and its 2-day scientific programme, please visit the official conference website by clicking here.

Join us at the EFAD Conference 2019 in Berlin, to attend the ISA symposium and to visit the ISA information booth in order to stay informed about the latest research on low calorie sweeteners’ role in the human diet.

We look forward to seeing you all there!

Professor Dominique PARENT MASSIN, French academy of Agriculture, France
Prof Dominique Parent Massin was professor in food toxicology at Brest University until 2016. She was in charge of a Master of Food toxicology from 2008-2016. She has been in charge also of courses in food toxicology in Lebanon (1997-2007), Vietnam (2008), Tunisia (2008), West Africa. Prof D Parent Massin founded and was the head of the laboratory of Food and Cellular Toxicology. Her research activities were more specifically in hematotoxicity and myelotoxicity of food contaminants and drugs. Prof D Parent was expert in EFSA from 20003 to 2018 in Additives and Nutrient Sources Panel, and several working groups on mycotoxins and food additives. Prof D Parent Massin was chair of the French Society of Toxicology, she is member of the French Academy of Agriculture, where she is currently involved in the board, as Vice-secretary.

Professor Ian ROWLAND, Hugh Sinclair Unit of Human Nutrition, Department of Food and Nutritional Sciences, University of Reading, UK
Ian graduated with a BSc and PhD in microbiology from University College London. Prior to joining the University of Reading in 2007 as the Hugh Sinclair Professor of Human Nutrition, he was head of nutrition at the University of Ulster and Director of the Northern Ireland Centre for Food and Health. His main research area is the interaction of diet, gut microbiota and health with a particular focus on the metabolism of phytochemicals and impact on health. He has served as Vice-Chair of the UK Government’s Committee on Toxicology and in 2005 he was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Gent in Belgium for his work on nutrition and cancer. He has published over 400 papers and is on the Thompson-Reuters List of Most Highly Cited Researchers 2016.

Dr Margaret ASHWELL, OBE, DSc, PhD, FAfN, RNutr (Public Health)
Margaret is a Registered Nutritionist and is the President/ Chair of the Association for Nutrition. She was among the first to advocate the use of the simple waist-to-height ratio as a warning of early health risk. Primary screening only requires a piece of string: “Keep your waist to less than half your height”. She has been a Research Scientist with the Medical Research Council, Principal of the Good Housekeeping Institute, Science Director of the British Nutrition Foundation and, for more than 20 years, Director of Ashwell Associates, a nutrition science consultancy. Margaret edited the biography of the nutrition pioneers, McCance and Widdowson, published in 1993. She describes this project as that which has given her most satisfaction. She served on the UK Government’s Food Advisory Committee for 9 years. She is now a Senior Visiting Fellow at Cass Business School and she received an Honorary Doctorate of Science from the University of Westminster in 2018.

Title of Presentation: Safety assessment and approval of low-calorie sweeteners: what type of evidence needs to be evaluated?
Speaker: Prof Dominique Parent Massin
Abstract: Risk assessment for food additives, including low calories sweeteners, is performed before authorisation by risk manager. Risk assessment is divided in four steps, hazard identification, hazard characterisation, exposure assessment, risk characterisation. Food additives authorised in EU under Regulation (EC) No 1333/2008 are currently being re-assessed by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). The deadline for the re-evaluation of a number of sweeteners by EFSA expires on 31st December 2020. However, their safety has been assessed several times by food safety agencies in the past. For some of them as aspartame, due to studies published in scientific literature, their assessment has been recently performed. Acceptable Daily Intakes (ADI) have been defined for most of them considering toxicological data. Exposure data have shown that ADI is not exceeded at maximum permitted level (MPL) in EU. Consequently, all low calories sweeteners are considered of not concern for the consumers. Risk assessment process and the latest risk assessment of each low-calorie sweeteners will be presented.


  1. EFSA ANS Panel (EFSA Panel on Food Additives and Nutrient Sources added to Food), 2013. Scientific Opinion on the re-evaluation of aspartame (E 951) as a food additive. EFSA Journal 2013;11(12):3496, 263 pp. doi:10.2903/j.efsa.2013.3496
  2. Scientific Opinion of the Panel on Food Additives, Flavourings, Processing Aids and Materials in Contact with Food on a request from European Commission on Neotame as a sweetener and flavour enhancer. The EFSA Journal (2007) 581, 1-43

Title of Presentation: Low calorie sweeteners and gut microbiota: a review of animal and human studies
Speaker: Prof Ian Rowland
Abstract: The human colonic microbiota is a large and complex microbial community. Over 1000 bacterial species have been identified with about 160 being found in the gut of any individual. The size and diversity of the microbiota is reflected in extensive metabolic activities.
Observational studies comparing the faecal microbiotas of healthy subjects with those of patients, strongly suggest an association of gut microbiota composition and the aetiology and/or development of a range of gastrointestinal diseases and also a link with obesity and diabetes. However, the precise organisms involved are difficult to identify.
The interactions of low/no calorie sweeteners (LNCS) and gut microbiota has been the subject of numerous studies in laboratory animals and human subjects. LNCS are a structurally diverse group of compounds that have very different metabolic fates following consumption. Most (e.g. acesulfame K, saccharin, and sucralose) are not metabolized by gut bacteria. Stevia is a notable exception as its glycosidic forms are hydrolysed by the microbiota, releasing steviol, which is then absorbed intact without further bacterial metabolism.
LNCS are consumed at such low levels that they are unlikely to have a direct, clinically meaningful impact on the gut microbiota. Nevertheless, some studies on saccharin (mostly in laboratory animals) have shown effects on microbiota composition or metabolism, although only at very high doses above normal human consumption. Studies with other LNCS show either no, or inconsistent, effects on the microbiota, probably as a consequence of design issues and lack of adequate controls. Overall, the evidence indicates that LNCS have minimal impact on gut microbiota.


  1. Rowland I et al. Gut microbiota functions: metabolism of nutrients and other food components. Eur J Nutr 2018; 57: 1-24
  2. Lobach AR et al. Assessing the in vivo data on low/no-calorie sweeteners and the gut microbiota. Food Chem Toxicol 2018; 124: 385-399
  3. Ruiz-Ojeda FJ et al. Effects of Sweeteners on the Gut Microbiota: A Review of Experimental Studies and Clinical Trials. Adv Nutr 2019; 10: S31–S48

Title of Presentation: Recommendations about intake of sugars and low calorie sweeteners: impact on obesity and diabetes epidemics
Speaker: Dr Margaret Ashwell
Abstract: To help the public to reduce energy intake for their health, authorities have proposed limiting ‘free sugars’ to 10, or even 5 per cent of total energy intake. ‘Free sugars’ include all monosaccharides and disaccharides added to foods by the manufacturer, cook or consumer, plus sugars naturally present in honey, syrups and unsweetened fruit and vegetable juices and purees. Current intakes of ‘free sugars’ are well above these recommendations.
The use of low calorie sweeteners (LCS) is just one of the strategies to achieve these sugar goals. Groups of scientific experts have generated consensus statements, position papers, or other statements on LCS to show they are safe and effective. Many systematic reviews and meta-analyses have shown that LCS can help in reducing energy intake with implications for weight loss. Further, it is known that only small amounts of sustained weight loss are needed to reduce the risk of diabetes. It is now acknowledged that central obesity is a potent risk factor for diabetes and that the prevalence of central obesity is increasing rapidly. Fortunately central obesity can be detected by a simple anthropometric measure: the waist to height ratio (WHtR). A simple cut off WHtR 0.5 has been proposed which is universally applicable to children and adults. Prevention of central obesity is therefore essential if we are to have any impact on the epidemics of obesity and diabetes.
There is good evidence that the use of LCS can help to reduce obesity, including central obesity, or prevent it from increasing. Current UK government advice suggests low calorie drinks (i.e. those sweetened with LCS) as a suitable replacement for high sugar drinks. LCS consumption, as a means to limit ‘free sugar’ consumption, should be advocated more widely as one way to help to contain the epidemics of obesity and diabetes.


  1. Rogers PJ, Hogenkamp PS, de Graaf C et al. (2016) Does low-energy sweetener consumption affect energy intake and body weight? A systematic review, including meta-analyses, of the evidence from human and animal studies. Int J Obes (Lond) 40, 381-394.
  2. Gibson S, Ashwell M, Arthur J et al. (2017) What can the food and drink industry do to help achieve the 5% free sugars goal? Perspect Public Health 137, 237-247.
  3. Ashwell M, Gibson S, Bellisle F et al. (submitted) Expert consensus on low calorie sweeteners: facts, research gaps and suggested actions. Nutrition Research Reviews