New World Health Organization (WHO) guidance advises against the use of sugar substitutes for weight loss purposes. In this episode of the Xtalks Food Podcast, Sydney talks about the WHO’s review, which suggests that while a mild reduction in body weight may occur in the short term, it is not sustainable over time. The review also highlighted potential negative effects associated with long-term use of sugar substitutes, including a slightly increased risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. The review incorporated 283 studies, including randomized controlled trials and observational studies. Both the Calorie Control Council, an international association representing the low-calorie food and beverage industry, and the International Sweeteners Association, an industry association, expressed disappointment with the WHO’s guidance. The team is not surprised with the WHO’s guidance but wonders how much of an impact it will have on the broader food industry.
Also in this episode, Sydney talks about Pairwise, a startup based in Durham, North Carolina, that launched its first CRISPR-developed product in the US: Conscious Greens. Touted as a mix of superfood leafy greens, the product claims to offer twice the nutrition of traditional romaine lettuce and comes with an appealing fresh flavor. This product is notable because the company claims it’s the first food product in the US that was developed using CRISPR technology. CRISPR, or Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats, is a gene-editing technique that can be used to alter the DNA of cells to enhance certain characteristics or reduce less desirable ones. In this case, Pairwise used CRISPR to address the issue that most lettuces lack nutritional value, and many other greens are too bitter or hard to eat. Sydney also mentions other companies that are using CRISPR in agriculture, including Inari Agriculture, Monsanto and DuPont. The team wonders whether food companies will have to include a label that indicates whether a food product was developed with CRISPR.
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