BSDA responds to media coverage of sweeteners review

British Soft Drinks Association (BSDA) has commented on the media's coverage on a new report, which says that low-calorie and artificial sweeteners may not help people lose weight and there is not enough evidence on their safety.

However, the BDSA has stated that the study, carried out by Cochrane – an international non-profit research group - did not find solid evidence of any major safety issues.

Cochrane aims to provide evidence for the World Health Organization, which is preparing guidance on what it calls 'non-sugar sweeteners' (NSSs) – a term that includes artificial sweeteners such as aspartame and low or no-calorie natural alternatives such as stevia.

Gavin Partington, Director General at BSDA, said, 'Low- and no-calorie sweeteners allow consumers to enjoy sweetness while managing sugars and calories in their everyday lives. Because they taste good and are low- or calorie-free, people are more likely to combine them with a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle and stick to their dietary goals for weight management.

'In March 2017, the UK Government and Public Health England publicly endorsed the use of low-calorie sweeteners as a safe alternative to reduce sugar in food and drink and help people manage their weight.

'The increased use of low-calorie sweeteners in soft drinks has led to a significant reduction in sugar and calorie intake (from soft drinks). Kantar Worldpanel data shows overall sugar intake from soft drinks is down by 22.9% since 2014.'

Food and drink manufacturers have been under pressure from Public Health England (PHE) to reduce the sugar content of their products to help tackle the obesity crisis. PHE has asked for a cut of 20% by 2020.