Growing concerns about increasing rates of obesity and related diseases such as diabetes have bolstered the need for new sweetener solutions. From 2009 to 2010, 35.7 percent of U.S. adults were obese, according to data released in January by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Atlanta. During that same time period, 16.9 percent of U.S. children and adolescents were obese, according to the National Health and Nutritional Examination survey released by the CDC. To help address these numbers, beverage-makers are turning to ingredients, such as stevia, to help consumers who are looking to lower their calorie consumption and glycemic intake.
“People like sugar; it is natural, but the high calories in sugar cause a variety of side effects including obesity and also some severe diseases like diabetes [and] cardiovascular disease,” says Luke Zhang, chairman and chief executive officer of GLG Life Tech Corp., Vancouver, Canada. “… Obesity is the main cause for diabetes [and] cardiovascular disease, and high calories are one of the main causes for obesity, so the main benefit to use stevia in beverages is a zero-calorie [profile].”