ATLANTA (June 23, 2011) – Low-calorie sweeteners provide an effective solution to managing the desire to eat sweet things, according to health and nutrition experts meeting at the International Sweeteners Association’s (ISA) recent 2011 conference in Brussels. Leading scientists in the field concluded that low-calorie sweeteners help fulfill our natural desire for sweet tastes, while helping to reduce the amount of added sugar and calories in the diet.
The ISA conference brought together eminent experts in the areas of nutrition, obesity, food safety and communications to discuss the role and benefits of low calorie sweeteners in the diet and to investigate some of the issues that surround them.
“Our desire for sweetness hasn’t changed in hundreds of years, but what has altered is that we’re eating more and doing less exercise – all of which is contributing to rising obesity levels. Low calorie sweeteners can help provide a solution because they allow you to enjoy that sweet treat without contributing significantly to the overall daily calorie intake,” said Hans Heezen, Chairman of the Association.
Dutch obesity expert, Dr. Tommy Visscher, spoke on the findings of research on the relationship between energy balance and body weight. The findings reveal how a minor decrease in body weight (as little as 2 or 3 percent) can result in significant overall health benefits, including reducing the risk of diabetes, cancer and other obesity-related illnesses. Dr. Visscher stated, “When used as a substitute for sugar in foods and drinks, low-calorie sweeteners can play a significant role in facilitating this level of weight loss and maintaining a healthy weight.”
Despite a significant body of peer-reviewed science and international approval, some people continue to question the consumption levels of low calorie sweeteners. Addressing this point head-on was Dr. Joris Van Loco, Director of the Food, Medicines, and Consumer Safety Group (Scientific Institute of Public Health, Belgium). He shared his recent analysis of the amount of aspartame consumed by people in Belgium, demonstrating that consumption levels across the population are well below the ADI (Acceptable Daily Intake), including in children and people with diabetes.
Journalist Trevor Butterworth, who regularly contributes to the Financial Times and Wall Street Journal, also joined the debate, arguing that the public image of low calorie sweeteners has been the victim of bad science: “The weight of considered scientific evidence, the result of careful, independent, expert scrutiny, again and again shows that there is no evidence of a risk to health.”
Host of the conference, television presenter and food adventurer, Stefan Gates, said, “There are lots of food additive hoaxes and disinformation which, even when disproved, provoke fear. This is not a good thing. We all need to understand nutrition and food science a little better, which is why I am taking part. Our desire for sweet taste is an essential and basic human characteristic – cutting out sweet foods and drinks is incredibly hard for most people so they’re just not going to do it. Low calorie sweeteners can be useful when you want to reduce your calorie intake – and may help combat getting fat – which can only be good!”
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About the International Sweeteners Association
The International Sweeteners Association (ISA) is a non-profit organization registered under Belgian law representing manufacturers and users of low-calorie sweeteners.
The ISA is recognized by the European Commission, national and international regulatory authorities, and the World Health Organization, and has Non-Government Observer status with the Codex Alimentarius Commission which establishes international food standards.
Contact: Lauren Godinez 404-252-3663