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AAP: Info Sparse for Nonnutritive Sweetener Use in Children

NNSs may promote small amounts of weight loss, but isolated use unlikely to lead to substantial weight loss

MONDAY, Oct. 28, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Nonnutritive sweeteners (NNSs) are increasingly being consumed by children, although more information is needed on their safety and long-term impact, according to a policy statement published online Oct. 28 in Pediatrics to coincide with the annual meeting of the American Academy of Pediatrics, held from Oct. 25 to 29 in New Orleans.

Carissa M. Baker-Smith, M.D., M.P.H., from the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, and colleagues summarize the available literature regarding NNS use in children and adolescents, as NNS are increasingly being consumed.

The authors note that the long-term safety of NNSs in childhood has not been assessed. During the past several years, the number of consumer products containing NNSs has increased. NNSs can reduce weight gain or promote small amounts of weight loss in children and adults when substituted for caloric-sweetened foods or beverages; it seems unlikely that NNS use in isolation will lead to substantial weight loss. Observational studies show that NNS intake is associated with elevated rates of metabolic syndrome and diabetes; more information is needed regarding the causal and harmful effects of NNSs on metabolism and risk for diabetes. High-quality research is needed on the use of NNSs in childhood, including age of exposure and taste preferences, neurodevelopment, and the impact on the microbiome.

“Considering how many children are regularly consuming these products — which have become ubiquitous — we should have a better understanding of how they impact children’s long-term health,” Baker-Smith said in a statement.

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