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Dear Friends: Maybe sometimes, but only with relentless perseverance,
consumer activism can win the day. In the past year, Health Canada has
done an about face on not labeling artificial sweeteners, to recommending
that they avoid them altogether. Ideally, the strongest response should
have been to ban them altogether but behemoth bureaucrats take careful
baby steps, only when forced to do so, in this case (we believe) by a
large number of Canadian Parliamentarians. Dr. Martini and I wrote
articles and sent them several times to every single member of Parliament.
I am happy to share some of this breakthrough with the real leader of the
ban aspartame movement, Dr. Betty Martini, who has worked tirelessly on
this for almost 30 years.
Health Canada NOW says: “Avoid Sugar Substitutes!” but U.S. Won’t Do So
Because of Corporate Manipulation
les/Health-Canada-NOW-says–A- by-Stephen-Fox-92-Symptoms-Of- Aspartame-Poisoning-According- To-Fd_Aspartame_Aspartame- Causing-Birth-Defects_ Aspartame-Poisoning-190515- 914.html
Health Canada NOW says: “Avoid Sugar Substitutes!” but U.S. Won’t Do So Because of Corporate Manipulation
By Stephen Fox (290 views) 2 comments
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Hon. Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister of Health of Canada Hon. Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister of Health of Canada (Speaking in the name of the Americas Region)
(Image by YouTube, Channel: PAHO TV) Details DMCA
As a Canadian dietitian, nutrition writer, TV contributor who works in the US, Christy Brissette likes to keep up with health policy in both nations. Amazing that Health Canada, the agency responsible for public health and with enormous powers to do, has put forth a new course in the area of sugar substitutes, a track that sharply diverges from the one the United States is on.
Departing strongly from past policies as well from the American approach, Canada just released its new food and dietary guidelines, stating that zero-calorie or low-calorie sugar substitutes are neither necessary nor helpful.
“Sugar substitutes do not need to be consumed to reduce the intake of free sugars,” the guidelines say, adding that, because “there are no health benefits associated with the intake of sweeteners, nutritious foods and beverages that are unsweetened should be promoted instead.”
(Both myself and Dr. Betty Martini, Founder of Mission Possible International, took on the enormous and thankless task of assailing Health Canada on this earlier awful stance, by repeatedly sending our OpEdNews articles to every single member of the Canadian Parliament, as well as to Prime Minister Trudeau, to confront a derelict industry-manipulated change about a year ago, to play down any warnings on products containing aspartame.
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As activists used to all sort of monstrous manipulative merde, it was hard to do so without speculating the source of dropping these warnings on the labels without impugning in our minds the vast influence of corporations on such policies, but I am happy to say at least for the moment, dropping the labels may or may not be still intact (needs further research on the specifics, for a future articles), but the official policies and recommendations have shifted to a strong pro-consumer stance.
Of course, the new policies go far short of what is long overdue and that is an outright ban on any product containing aspartame, and by comparison, the new standards and the reactions thereunto are rather pusillanimous and namby-pamby; however, I do believe that this shift is a direct result of our fierce efforts.
The major Canadian press and editors were uniformly indifferent to pathetically oblivious to such entreaties about impending epidemiological doom, and I mean that that applied with the largest newspapers across the entire nation of Canada; maybe it was because we were “Yanks”; maybe it was because they are generally corporate stooges or possibly because they are narrow-minded and, at times, just plain stupid. Whatever the case, I doubt that they will even cover something so nebulous as Health Canada’s shift in warning policies.
By comparison, the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs), issued by the U.S. Agriculture and Health and Human Services departments, suggest sugar substitutes may have a place in helping people consume fewer calories, at least in the short term, though “questions remain about their effectiveness as a long-term weight-management strategy.” The guidelines neither encourage nor discourage their usage, and of course they never mention the 92 symptoms attributed to aspartame compiled from consumer complaints to the FDA.
Brissette: The differences may seem subtle, but dietary guidelines in each country are used to shape what is served at public institutions such as schools and are what many health-care professionals base their recommendations on. Language matters.
What are sugar substitutes?
Sugar substitutes include many categories, such as high-intensity sweeteners that are at least 100 times as sweet as sugar. They can be “artificial,” such as aspartame and saccharin, or “natural,” such as stevia and monk fruit. They can contain a negligible number of calories or be classified as low-calorie sweeteners, such as sugar alcohols.
In much of the research and in most policy documents, sugar substitutes are often discussed as a single category rather than a heterogeneous group of compounds. This makes it challenging to know whether certain types are preferable.
Most concern seems to focus on artificial sweeteners. Six are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as ingredients in foods and drinks and as table sweeteners people can add themselves. The most commonly found is aspartame, sold as brand names NutraSweet or Equal, found in more than 6,000 food products and more than 5,000 medications, followed by sucralose (Splenda), acesulfame K (Sweet One or Sunett) and saccharin (Sweet’N Low or Sugar Twin), and the lesser-known neotame and advantame. You’ll find artificial sweeteners in a range of foods and drinks, including light yogurt, diet sodas, protein bars and chewing gum as well as baked goods and frozen desserts.
Carbonated drinks are the top source of artificial sweeteners in the American diet.
What does the research say?
Research shows that stevia and monk fruit, the natural sugar substitutes, are safe for human consumption. There has been conflicting research about the safety of artificial sweeteners, depending on whether it is the corporations making aspartame who are paying for the research, or research independently funded.
Some studies have suggested that artificial sweeteners could increase the risk of Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease and cancer, and may have a negative influence on the microbiome and mental health.
(“Microbiome” refers to the microorganisms in a particular environment (including the body or a part of the body). We depend on a vast army of microbes to stay alive: a microbiome that protects us against germs, breaks down food to release energy, and produces vitamins. It is the the combined genetic material of the microorganisms in a particular environment. Understanding the microbiome–human, animal, and environmental–is as important as the human genome.)
Research based on data from 37,716 men from the Health Professional’s follow-up study and 80,647 women from the Nurses’ Health study published in Circulation revealed that artificially sweetened beverages clearly result in a greater risk of death as well as death from heart disease. The risk was clearly indicated for women consuming 4 servings of artificially sweetened beverages a day. Politely, so as not to offend any corporate sponsors out there, this author states that his findings “need to be confirmed by further research.”
Brissette: A review by the nonprofit research foundation Cochrane, conducted for the World Health Organization, examined 56 studies into the effects of sugar substitutes on health. It found that there is no evidence sugar substitutes provide any benefit and many have some risks.
An analysis of U.S. dietary intake from 2003 to 2004 shows that people tend to add artificial sweeteners to their diets rather than replacing sugary foods and beverages with them. The same seems to be true for children. This month, research published in the Pediatric Obesity journal revealed that in U.S. children, drinking artificially sweetened beverages is associated with consuming more calories and sugar.
Why the difference in advice?
U.S. and Canadian health officials are looking at the same research and have populations with similar health issues. So why the difference in guidelines regarding sugar substitutes?
The new Canadian approach seems to be that if a food or beverage doesn’t have a demonstrated health benefit, it doesn’t belong in your diet. Their 2019 guidelines suggest that people’s taste buds will adapt to less-sweet tastes when they reduce their consumption of sweetened foods and beverages and using high-intensity sweeteners delays that process.
This is a marked change from Canada’s last dietary guidelines, released in 2007, which advised the general population to consume sugar substitutes in moderation and to cut back on them if they noticed any digestive symptoms such as gas and bloating.
The new Canadian recommendations might seem tougher, but in fact, are clearer. Further, this latest Canadian Food Guide maintains that whole grains are the only grains to put on your plate, while the U.S. guideline is that at least half of your grains be whole grains. The U.S. view seems to be focused on encouraging health behaviors that are thought to be more achievable. Perhaps that is so with a populace.
Brissette interviewed Alice H. Lichtenstein, professor of nutrition science and policy at Tufts University, who was skeptical of an all-or-nothing approach to sugar substitutes. She also put forth her views in an editorial in Circulation, responding to the study that said consuming artificially sweetened beverages is associated with a greater risk of death.
“To a certain extent, as a community, we can take the high road about beverage recommendations: Drink water (or flavored water) in place of [sugar-sweetened beverages]. However, continuing this simple approach would be disingenuous because we know that it has not worked well in the past and there is little reason to expect that it will work well in the future.” Lichtenstein said: “For some people, I suspect the use of high-intensity sweeteners is helpful in avoiding excess energy intake. For others, it might not be helpful.”
From my point of view as an all-out ban-aspartame activist, such professorial pronouncements take on the feel of weak academic double-speak and gobbledegook, but we have learned that the preacher must avoid dumping on the choir.
A 2018 advisory from the American Heart Association also takes a more mousy approach to sugar substitutes than Canada’s, stating that they can play a role in helping people to reduce the amount of sugar-sweetened beverages they’re drinking. Their advisory also says beverages containing low-calorie sweeteners could be especially useful for people who are used to sweetness and find water unappealing at first.
Brissette then last turned to Marion Nestle, an American author and professor emeritus of nutrition, food studies and public health at NYU.
Nestle: “What we know about artificial sweeteners is for sure that they are not necessary. On a population basis, they do not seem to help people lose weight, but they may help some individuals. So, both approaches are valid. Personally, I follow a food rule not to eat anything artificial, so these sweeteners are off my dietary radar.”
When asked what she thought was the reasoning behind the differing approaches to sugar substitutes taken by the U.S. and Canadian governments, she responded, “One can only speculate that the lobbying for artificial sweeteners worked better in the U.S. than in Canada.”
Last month, the American Diabetes Association released a Nutrition Consensus Report that recommends that water replace sugar-sweetened beverages. If sugar substitutes are used, the report says, people should receive nutrition counseling to help them avoid replacing the calories and carbohydrates with food, that any proposed advantages to sugar substitutes haven’t been proven, and that there could be potential adverse effects, such as impacts on hunger, confusion around calorie intake and the possibility that use of sugar substitutes could be replacing healthier options.
Christy Brissette: Follow her on Twitter @80twentyrule.
Comments harvested from one of Brissette’s recent articles in the Washington Post:
Gizzymine 7 hours ago
Once again, flawed interpretation of scientific data. Correlation doesn’t indicate causation. People who are eating/drinking artificial sugars are generally doing so because they have a condition that limiting sugar intake would help with, such as diabetes, heart disease or obesity. These people would be expected to have a greater chance of dying early, regardless of artificial sweetener intake. There is no evidence that the artificial sweeteners on the market today cause any health problems.
And while some people might feel that drinking a diet soda gives them a reason to eat more of other food, I think most people know this isn’t a good idea. But any sugar they don’t consume is a good thing. If artificial sweeteners help people adjust to and accept a different eating style it’s a good thing.
Psilociber 6 hours ago
wrong. There is a lot of evidence that links artificial sweeteners to several health issues, physical and mental. Sugar is good for NOBODY but in the long run is not as dangerous as sugar substitutes. Diabetics and obese people (and people in general) should retrain their palate and abstain from sugar. And everyone should stay away from sugar substitutes. If you dispute this, I can give more detailed information. At the very least, sugar is recognized by the body. Artificial sweeteners, even ones claiming to be natural, are not, and are treated by the body as a toxin.
Hyman Roth 16 hours ago
Why the difference in advice? Because the Canadian government’s priority is to look out for the welfare of its citizens, while the priority of the US government is to advance the interests of whatever Corporate entity donates the most money to the prostitutes in Congress.
Maggie the Cat 17 hours ago
Say it isn’t so. I’d better start stockpiling Splenda.
1 Tough Lady 19 hours ago
I use the occasional half packet of sweet n low on iced tea if it’s particularly bad tea. Otherwise I don’t bother and I don’t drink soda of any kind, so I’m not worried about it.
Schnauzer21 20 hours ago
Once again this entire discussion ignores the fact that is a large number of people who can’t have sugar or must severely limit sugar for medical reasons. Not everyone eats or drinks lots of “sugary foods” in the first place and have no interest in the “diet drinks don’t help loose weight” arena. I don’t need to lose weight. I do however have to limit the sugar I eat for medical reasons and drinks are one of the easiest ways. However I don’t want to drink everything unsweetened and in many cases, the only options (besides water) are “with sugar” or with “artificial sweeteners” Likethumb_up3
19 hours ago
This article is about the dietary guidelines, which are for the general population. In case you are interested in Diabetes Canada’s take on sweeteners for people with diabetes, here it is:
Capskinsnats 19 hours ago
I recently started drinking Bai flavored water which has one gram of sugar per eight ounces.
psilociber 6 hours ago
Sweetness is not necessary for a happy life. Enjoy a slice of birthday cake occasionally, but for Gods sake give it up. 2000 years ago people were perfectly fine without it. It’s a drug.
JokullJuniper 20 hours ago
I always make it a point to back my Canadian Club with a sugar-free Molson’s. I don’t want to die young.
SmithGrabholz 21 hours ago
This is a very unclearly written article. Of course using Stevia doesn’t cause me to lose weight, but it makes my coffee taste better. And while I gave up Aspartame and Splenda long ago, I’ve been reading articles like this for years waiting for someone to ascertain the safety of stevia without just lumping it in with the known dangers of artificial sweeteners. Still waiting.
Silverblaze 20 hours ago
There’s no known health benefit to eating mustard on your hamburger, either, but a lot of people think it makes the mustard taste better. And there’s no health reason to put cheese on every sandwich a restaurant serves–in fact, given the fat content of most cheese, there are reasons not to eat so much of it. But just try telling people to eat a plain hamburger instead of a cheeseburger.
19 hours ago
As the article states: “Research suggests that stevia and monk fruit, the natural sugar substitutes, are safe for human consumption, though it’s not clear that they lead to weight loss.” We also ran this article recently: click here
SusanBAfromResistanceville 10 hours ago
using stevia doesn’t cause me to lose weight
There’s a good reason for that: the plethora of science studies showing that Stevia interferes with fat-burning processes, especially lipolysis. Stop using it without adding sugars, and though your weight might not shrink much, your waistline will.
Priceofcivilization 21 hours ago
As you consume less sugar, and don’t replace it with a chemical taste that is a poor imitation, one tastes the flavor of the food more. Slowly (over a year or more) you get to where a very sugary food is almost painful, or at least unpleasant because you can’t taste the food.
I went through a similar change in perception when I went from premium ice cream with the highest levels of fat to sorbets and gelatos. Now I want as much fresh flavor as possible, and not too much thick fat as a sludgy barrier between the food and my taste buds.
I would only consider soft drinks if they cut the sugar by 50%-75% so I could taste the cola or ginger. And they can’t replace the sugar with a chemical, just let me enjoy the flavor.
capsfan16 21 hours ago
I’m glad to see a dietary guideline that doesn’t recommend sugar substitutes. I’m with Canada – if there’s no benefit, there’s no reason to endorse a food group. That way it’s easier to think of sweet (or processed) foods as occasional treats rather than daily staples.
LaurenK 21 hours ago
One of the things this article strongly seems to suggest is that *how* people use artificial sweeteners matters. If you’re legitimately using them in place of actual sugars, the risk seems mitigated. Since it is specifically mentioned that most users (who have the associated risks) are NOT replacing sugars but are instead adding these artificial ones in, wouldn’t it be necessary to establish a control group of those who ARE using them as recommended in order to actually determine if there are risks? And yes, I’ve definitely seen the people who order diet soda so they can double up on something else, but there’s a very important missing answer to a question that doesn’t seem to be asked here–specifically “Are people who are making the most use of artificial sweeteners ALSO engaging in other unhealthful habits that could increase their risk for disease?” It’s not unlike the guidance from a few years back suggesting that people who didn’t see dentists regularly were at more risk for cardiac disease. This is *true* but it’s not due to an innate dental/cardiac connection. It’s due to the fact that people who neglected their teeth were more likely to be neglecting other aspects of their health as well. The reason this strikes me is “off” is because it’s missing a big second part. It doesn’t mean it’s not true or correct, but it’s going to be hard to PROVE it without that additional information.
Silverblaze 20 hours ago
People who order diet sodas so they can double up on something else are doing so for two reasons: 1. They are diabetics who are “budgeting” their carbohydrates, the way we occasionally skip the potatoes at dinner so we can fit a piece of birthday cake into the diet plan. 2. They have avoided sugared sodas so long that they taste like syrup to them and prefer the taste of diet sodas.
NEQueen 22 hours ago
I want to share my auntie’s story. She’s diabetic. She’s addicted to diet sodas. She’s also incontinent. One week she ran out of the stuff. After a week or so, she reported that she didn’t have nearly the amount of urge incontinence. She still leaked here and there but it was nothing compared to the continual feeling she couldn’t hold it and then lost control of her bladder. We thought it might be the caffeine. So we gave her noncaffeinated beverages. She was incontinent all the time in a day or two. So we stopped the aspartame and the Splenda. She reduced the incontinence by about 75%. It didn’t fix her problem but it was much more manageable. I told this to several women, some without diabetes but with a few children. If you have kids, I’ve learned, you’re probably incontinent, no matter how old you are. Yes they can try to fix it but no one does because they don’t care about women, just about the baby. I’ve been told ob gyns have said it’s no big deal, it’s part of motherhood, although they’ve only said that after the births to my associates. There’s lots to say about that, but this is about the fake sugar. It will make you feel like you have to urinate right now and can barely hold it. It irritates your urethra and bladder. If you don’t believe me, try it. Give it up for a week. Are you urinating uncontrollably or frequently feeling you might wet your self if you don’t go to the bathroom right now? Give them up. Get used to sweet as a sometimes treat.
Adrienne_Najar 22 hours ago
Thanks. I’ll try your suggestion.
Silverblaze 21 hours ago
That’s the carbonation, not the sweetener. Some artificial sweeteners will have a laxative effect, but most carbonated beverages are like beer–you don’t buy it as much as rent it for a short time.
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