Life can be just a little sweeter when you choose foods and beverages sweetened with zero-calorie, plant-based stevia for your family. Stevia has been used as a natural origin sweetener in foods and beverages for hundreds of years in South America. Stevia was first commercialized as a sweetener in Japan in the 1970s and to date, high-purity stevia leaf extracts are approved for use in a broad selection of food and beverage categories in more than 150 countries. In addition to that long history of use, there are more than 200 studies that support the science and safety of high purity stevia leaf extract. The use of high purity stevia leaf extract in foods and beverages at the levels approved has been deemed safe by all major regulatory agencies around the world, meeting the criteria required for an ingredient to be use in foods and beverages.

Stevia Is Safe for The Whole Family

All major global regulatory organizations, including the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives , have given stevia their safety stamp of approval. You will find stevia in foods and beverages worldwide in more than 150 countries and counting, including the United States, Canada, Japan, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Spain, Russia, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Columbia and many more.

Children, women who are pregnant or nursing and people with diabetes may wonder about using stevia as part of their daily diet. Rest assured. Experts agree that stevia is safe for everyone and brings many benefits to the table:

consumers

  • Stevia is naturally sourced from the stevia plant.
  • Stevia is zero calorie so it allows for the enjoyment of sweet tastes without unwanted calories.
  • Stevia can help lower blood glucose when used to displace sugar, carbohydrates and calories in foods that are consumed for their reduced sugar and reduced calories.
  • Stevia on its own provides no glycemic load and has no effect on blood sugar or insulin levels.
  • Stevia is tooth friendly.
  • Stevia is safe and suitable for the whole family, no matter the age or life stage.

A Special Note to Parents

In 2015, the World Health Organization estimated that over 42 million children under the age of five were overweight. Overweight and obese children are more prone to stay obese into adulthood and have a higher risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular diseases at a younger age.1

If you are a parent trying to keep tabs on the amount of sweet calories in your child’s diet, stevia can help you manage the family eating plan.

Children, like adults, often eat and drink more calories than recommended. A report issued by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that boys consume 16.3% of their daily calories from added sugars, and girls get 15.5% 2 Current guidelines recommend no more than 10% of calories come from added sugars. Almost half of these added sugar calories in children come from beverages, according to the most recent analysis provided to the 2015 US Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC, 2015).3

While added sugar is not the only culprit in the obesity epidemic among children – many other factors including genetics, diet, physical activity habits, environmental cues, all matter – incorporating sugar and calorie reduced stevia-containing products into the diet can help reduce sugar and calorie intake. A recent report looking at strategies to reduce added sugar in the diet found that the use of zero-calorie sweeteners can substantially reduce added sugar intake and help reduce calorie intake when used in place of higher energy ingredients. The authors noted that studies to date show that replacing sugar-sweetened beverages with beverages sweetened with non-caloric sweeteners results in a reduction in energy intake and modest weight loss, even if some calorie compensation occurs.4

Stevia alone cannot solve weight management challenges. But stevia is one tool in the toolbox of better health. You can cut unwanted calories by choosing packaged foods and beverages that contain stevia, or in your own kitchen, you can use it to replace or reduce other kinds of caloric sweeteners in your family’s favorite recipes.

Stevia is Safe for Pregnant Women and Nursing Moms

During pregnancy, just like during other life stages, women may have the desire for an occasional sweet treat. Stevia can help by providing a plant-based, zero calorie sweetener that is available
in a wide variety of food and beverage products.

In addition, women who experience gestational diabetes need to closely monitor their intakes of all carbohydrates during pregnancy. Because stevia has no impact on blood glucose or insulin levels and can help lower blood glucose levels when used to displace sugar, carbohydrates and calories in foods formulated to be reduced calorie and reduced sugar, stevia can be a great alternative to nutritive sweeteners during pregnancy.

Women can feel safe knowing that multiple global regulatory organizations, including the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives, European Food Safety Authority, and the Food & Drug Administration have reviewed the evidence and determined that the use of high purity stevia extract is safe for the general population, including pregnant women and children, when consumed within the recommended levels.

Despite stevia’s known safety, some media and concerned consumers have questioned if stevia causes infertility. There is no scientific evidence that supports this accusation. The fertility studies that have come into question in the past used crude stevia extracts, which is not the high purity stevia leaf extract form that is approved for use globally in foods and beverages. All of the information contained on this site refers to high purity stevia leaf extract. For further information on this distinction, please see our terminology section.

To learn more in-depth information about stevia science and safety, visit our Health professionals section.


REFERENCES

  1. World Health Organization. Childhood Overweight and Obesity. http://www.who.int/dietphysicalactivity/childhood/en/, accessed online September 22, 2017.
  2. Ervin RB, et al. Consumption of added sugar among U.S. children and adolescents, 2005–2008. NCHS data brief no 87. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2012. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db87.htm
  3. US Department of Health and Human Services and US Department of Agriculture. 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. 8th Edition. December 2015. Available at http://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/.
  4. Gibson S, et al. What can the food and drink industry do to help achieve the 5% free sugars goal? Perspect Public Health. 2017 Jul;137(4):237-247. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28415920