Use heart to connect to a healthier diet

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The ISA joins the World Heart Federation in supporting World Heart Day 2021

Brussels, 29th September 2021: With estimated 520 million people globally currently living with cardiovascular disease (CVD), including heart disease and stroke, and as CVD remains the world’s leading cause of death,1 it is crucial that we all join efforts in raising awareness around the globe about the actions that each one of us can take to prevent and control CVD. With this in mind, the International Sweeteners Association (ISA) proudly joins again the World Heart Federation in supporting World Heart Day today.

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is preventable

Did you know that at least 80% of premature deaths from CVD could be avoided by reducing risk factors, such as tobacco use, unhealthy diet and physical inactivity?1 This is why we all need to join efforts on World Heart Day: celebrated every year on 29th September, it is the opportunity to raise awareness and to educate everyone around the world about the importance of prevention and about the small steps that can be taken to reduce risk factors and control CVD.

Heart health goes digital

This year’s theme for World Heart Day, “Use Heart To Connect”, aims to encourage all of us to use our knowledge, compassion and influence to ensure that everyone has the best chance to live heart-healthy lives. Meanwhile, an urgent need to find innovative ways to connect people to heart health has emerged from the healthcare crisis brought by COVID-19. Considering that, World Heart Day 2021 aspires to highlight the power of digital health to improve awareness, prevention and management of CVD.

Diabetes is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease

Beyond the lifestyle and diet-related risk factors, diabetes, a major global health threat, is another risk factor for CVD. People living with diabetes are twice as likely to develop cardiovascular disease.

Furthermore, people living with underlying conditions such as diabetes and heart disease are at higher risk of developing more severe forms of COVID-19,2 and this is reflected in public health policy strategies to address the pandemic.3,4 The current pandemic has made all the more urgent tackling non-communicable diseases (NCDs), including their diet-related risk factors.

To prevent CVD, people living with diabetes are encouraged to “use heart” to:

follow a heart-healthy diet;
– exercise regularly;
– control body weight;
– say no to tobacco.

Following heart-healthy diet includes cutting down on sugary drinks or treats. You may aim to eat more fresh fruit as a healthy alternative. Also, low/no calorie sweeteners allow you to keep enjoying sweet taste while helping reduce some of the sugar in your diet.

Why not take advantage of dedicated websites or mobile apps to access heart-healthy tips and recipes? These may provide you with suggestions on how to use low/no calorie sweeteners in practice, for example to replace sugar in desserts. This way you will be able to keep your blood glucose levels under control without compromising on taste.

Low/no calorie sweeteners have a beneficial role to play when used in place of sugar and as part of a varied and balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle, including for people at risk of heart disease. In fact, low/no calorie sweeteners provide virtually no calories, so they can help reduce the total amount of calories people consume and thereby help people manage their weight.5,6 Furthermore, consumption of low/no calorie sweeteners causes a lower rise of blood glucose levels compared to sugars.7 They can therefore offer a significant aid to people with diabetes who need to manage their carbohydrate intake8 but who want to keep enjoying sweet-tasting food and drinks. Importantly also, low/no calorie sweeteners do not contribute to tooth demineralisation, which is one of the reasons for tooth decay.7

Engage in the conversation on social media about World Heart Day 2021 and share the above information and tips by using #UseHeart and #WorldHeartDay.

  1. World Heart Day 2021. Available at: https://world-heart-federation.org/world-heart-day/about-whd/world-heart-day-2021/
  2. ECDC, Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the EU/EEA and the UK, 8 April 2020, https://www.ecdc.europa.eu/sites/default/files/documents/covid-19-rapid-risk-assessment-coronavirus-disease-2019-eighth-update-8-april-2020.pdf
  3. Policy paper. Tackling obesity: empowering adults and children to live healthier lives, 27 July 2020, https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/tackling-obesity-government-strategy/tackling-obesity-empowering-adults-and-children-to-live-healthier-lives
  4. COM(2020) 318 final. Short-term EU health preparedness for COVID-19 outbreaks.
  5. Laviada-Molina H, Molina-Segui F, Pérez-Gaxiola G, et al. Effects of nonnutritive sweeteners on body weight and BMI in diverse clinical contexts: Systematic review and meta-analysis. Obes Rev 2020; 21(7) :e13020
  6. Rogers PJ and Appleton KM. The effects of low-calorie sweeteners on energy intake and body weight: a systematic review and meta-analyses of sustained intervention studies. Int J Obes 2021; 45(3): 464-478
  7. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has concluded that: “Consumption of foods/drinks containing intense sweeteners instead of sugar induces a lower blood glucose rise after their consumption compared to sugar-containing foods/drinks” and that: “Consumption of foods/drinks containing intense sweeteners instead of sugar contributes to the maintenance of tooth mineralisation”. EFSA Scientific opinion on the substantiation of health claims related to intense sweeteners. EFSA 2011 Journal 9(6): 2229, and 9(4): 2076
  8. Diabetes UK. The use of low or no calorie sweeteners. Position Statement (Updated December 2018). Available online: https://www.diabetes.org.uk/professionals/position-statements-reports/food-nutrition-lifestyle/use-of-low-or-no-calorie-sweetners