Food and Behaviour Research

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Artificially Sweetened Beverages and the Response to the Global Obesity Crisis

Borges MC, Louzada ML, de S TH, Laverty AA, Parra DC, Garzillo JM, Monteiro C, Millett C (2017) PLoS Med.  14(1): e1002195. doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1002195. eCollection 2017 

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In March 2015, the World Health Organization (WHO) published revised guidelines on sugar intake that call on national governments to institute policies to reduce sugar intake and increase the scope for regulation of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs).

In face of the growing threat of regulatory action on SSBs, transnational beverage companies are responding in multiple ways, including investing in the formulation and sales of artificially sweetened beverages (ASBs), promoted as healthier alternatives to SSBs.

The absence of consistent evidence to support the role of ASBs in preventing weight gain and the lack of studies on other long-term effects on health strengthen the position that ASBs should not be promoted as part of a healthy diet.

The promotion of ASBs must be discussed in a broader context of the additional potential impacts on health and the environment. In addition, a more robust evidence base, free of conflicts of interest, is needed.