and their inclusion allows greater flexibility for students with higher energy needs.

Standards for Nonnutritive Food Components

Standard 5: Beverages containing nonnutritive sweeteners are only allowed in high schools after the end of the school day.

In considering nonnutritive sweeteners in competitive foods and beverages for school-age children, four related issues were evaluated: safety; displacement effect on intake of other foods and beverages to be encouraged (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and nonfat or low-fat dairy products); efficacy for maintenance of healthy weight; and the role of choice and necessity.

Safety The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sets safety standards for food additives, including nonnutritive sweeteners. Those that are approved for use have been evaluated extensively and have met the standards. Yet there is still uncertainty, particularly about long-term use and about low-level exposure effects on the health and development of children.

Displacement Nonnutritive-sweetened beverages may be chosen instead of nutrient-dense beverages. Nutrient displacement occurs when a beverage or food of lesser nutritional value is substituted for one of greater nutritional value, resulting in reduced intake of nutrients.

Efficacy The DGA states that reduction of calorie intake is important in weight control. Nonnutritive sweeteners are used to replace sugars in foods and beverages and provide lower calorie choices to consumers.

Choice and necessity Beverages that meet Tier 2 standards make no caloric contribution and increase the variety of choices. These additional choices may be useful for those who wish to control or maintain body weight. The use of nonnutritive sweeteners to provide lower calorie foods and beverages, however, is not necessary to achieve the goal of weight control.

The committee considered these issues in the context of development in school age children and the public health concern of childhood obesity. Given the lack of clear evidence to evaluate their efficacy in weight control, intending to maintain clarity and avoiding complexity of standards across age groups and times of day, the committee took a cautious approach in its recommendations for the use of nonnutritive sweeteners in competitive foods and beverages.

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