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Artificial Sweeteners

2023 MAY 18

Preliminary   > Science and Technology   >   Biotechnology   >   Miscellaneous

Why in news?

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended against using artificial sweeteners to achieve weight loss and prevent lifestyle diseases.

About Artificial Sweeteners:

  • Artificial sweeteners are sugar substitutes that are used to sweeten foods and beverages with very little to no calories.
  • They are also called as non-nutritive sweeteners (NNS), non-sugar sweeteners (NSS), low calorie sweeteners and intense sweeteners.
  • Common NSS:
    • Acesulfame K (Ace-K), Aspartame, Advantame, Cyclamates, Neotame, Saccharin, Sucralose and Stevia

Recommendations by WHO:

  • Artificial Sweeteners lacks long term benefits:
    • Artificial sweeteners do not provide any long term benefits in reducing body fat in adults or children.
  • Diseases caused:
    • The use of sugar alternatives has been found to increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, depression, cardiovascular diseases, and causes digestive issues.
    • It also causes bladder cancer and preterm births when consumed by pregnant women.
  • Weight gain:
    • Even though there could be weight loss in short term, in long term it leads to weight gain.

Add ons:

  • In India, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) prescribes the maximum limit of artificial sweetener.


UPSC 2011

Aspartame is an artificial sweetener sold in the market. It consists of amino acids and provides calories like other amino acids. Yet, it is used as a low-calorie sweetening agent in food items. What is the basis of this use?

(a) Aspartame is as sweet as table sugar, but unlike table sugar, it is not readily oxidized in human body due to lack of requisite enzymes.

(b) When aspartame is used in food processing, the sweet taste remains, but it becomes resistant to oxidation.

(c) Aspartame is as sweet as sugar, but after ingestion into the body, it is converted into metabolites that yield no calories.

(d) Aspartame is several times sweeter than table sugar, hence food items made with small quantities of aspartame yield fewer calories on oxidation