April 12, 2017 — Over the past several years, consumers have become more concerned with excessive sugar consumption due to it being a potential risk factor for obesity and related health outcomes. In an effort to curb the obesity epidemic, local policy makers in the United States and some national principalities abroad have begun taxing sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) in hopes of minimizing sugar consumption. As a result of consumer concerns and governmental policies, the SSB industry has begun reformulating their products to reduce sugar content.
Public Health England (PHE), an executive agency of the Department of Health which is aimed at protecting and improving the health and wellbeing of the people of England, recently released a technical report entitled, “Sugar Reduction: Achieving the 20%. A technical report outlining progress to date, guidelines for industry, 2015 baseline levels in key foods and next steps (PDF) ”. The report includes industry guidance on how to achieve a 20% sugar reduction in foods which contribute much of the sugar intake in children and adolescents. In the report, it is acknowledged that no- and low-calorie sweeteners are suitable alternatives to sugar.
When examining the potential role of no- and low-calorie sweeteners in the effort to reduce sugar content and overall caloric density, PHE concluded “that replacing foods and drinks sweetened with sugar with those containing no or low calorie sweeteners could be useful in helping people to manage their weight as they reduce the calorie content of foods and drinks while maintaining a sweet taste.” Furthermore, PHE endorses the safety assessments and scientific opinions of Cancer Research UK, the US National Cancer Institute, and the European Food Safety Authority’s (EFSA) calling no and low-calorie sweeteners a “safe and acceptable alternative” to sugar.
No- and low-calorie sweeteners are an ideal substitute to sugar in foods and beverages as they provide sweetness without contributing as many calories. Using no- and low-calorie sweeteners in reformulations can help industry to achieve a palatable product while enabling consumers to limit their daily sugar intake.