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)
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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.
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.
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