"Stevia and Obesity" is a delightful example of a paper on food and nutrition. Stevia is an herb under the chrysanthemum family, which grows wildly in Paraguay and Brazil. Stevia is widely used as a sweetener in Paraguay and other countries in Asia, as well as South America, have started cultivating and using the same (Muth, 2011). Extracts from stevia plants have been useful as a dietary supplement in the US since 1995. Initially, Stevia leaves were sold in grounded powder form. This however was a demerit since the powder had a bad aftertaste hence could not serve well as a sugar substitute.
Manufacturers, therefore, sought ways to retain the sweetness and positive benefits as they got rid of the bitter aftertaste. There are more than 100 varieties of the stevia plant species and the most commonly used is the stevia rebaudioside. This species has the sweetest properties as it contains a compound known as rebaudioside A, which is the sweetest-flavored component of the Stevia leaf (Muth, 2011). Rebaudioside A contains some similarities with sugar. It has a sweetness level is just like that of sugar.
In addition, its sweetness lasts long just like that of sugar and finally, it now has little or no bitter aftertaste. Stevia plant leaf also contains a white crystalline compound known as stevioside that is 100-300 times sweeter than table sugar (Muth, 2011). Stevia and Safety Stevia contains safety advantages just like other artificial sweeteners but also posses’ potential harm. Research conducted on Stevia revealed that it could lead to cancer in humans. The compound responsible for causing cancer is stevioside since according to a study; it causes genetic mutations as well as chromosomal and DNA damage (Muth, 2011).
A study conducted on human subjects indicated that stevia use could be a useful treatment aimed at regulating glucose levels. In addition, stevia stimulates the secretion of insulin from the pancreas hence serving as a treatment to type 2 diabetes since insulin also regulates the blood sugar level. Stevia has served positively in S. America where it aids as a food additive and has enabled treatment of blood pressure, heartburn, and gout as well. The Japanese have conducted 40,000 clinical studies on stevia to prove its safety and they concluded that it was safe for human use (Muth, 2011).
It is however necessary to note that no study evidently proves that there are no harmful effects of long-term use of stevia. Therefore, people should not consume large amounts of stevia in order to prevent any possible health risks from occurring. Stevia and Obesity Stevia can serve as a remedy to obesity if used as an alternative to sugar. This is because it has fewer calories hence will enhance a balanced diet (Thomas & Glade, 2010).
Stevia can be used by food and beverage manufacturing companies to reduce sugar content in products hence reduce the obesity crisis in America. Some large food companies are currently embracing the use of stevia in some of their low-calorie products. When people consume too many refined sugars such as sucrose, they end up being obese since they lose their body weight control hence become overweight. In the current American society, maintaining a healthy caloric balance is possible through using a low caloric sweetener in foods. It is important to note that some synthetic caloric sweeteners do not help when it comes to avoiding obesity (Thomas & Glade, 2010).
Stevia, however, is natural-based since it is derived from plants and the most favorable solution to ensuring caloric balance.
Muth, N. (2011). The Truth about Stevia—The So-called "Healthy" Alternative Sweetener. Retrieved on September 14, 2014 from
Thomas, J., Glade, M. (2010). Stevia: It’s Not Just About Calories. The Open Obesity Journal, 2, 101-109