Overweight and obesity continue to be a major public health concern for the world’s children. The World Health Organization estimates that globally about one in ten young people aged 5 to 17 are overweight or obese, with levels rising rapidly in many countries and regions in recent years. Globally, in 2015, the number of overweight children under the age of five is estimated to be over 42 million.

Statistics show that 80 percent (four in five) of obese adolescents will continue to have weight problems into adulthood, increasing the risk of type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, asthma and sleep difficulties, making childhood obesity one of the public’s 21st century’s most serious health challenges.

Stevia-containing foods and beverages can play an important role in reducing calories from unwanted sweeteners in children’s diets. There are thousands of products on the market today that contain naturally-derived stevia, from beverages to salad dressings and snack bars that allow children to consume tasty foods and beverages without adding calories.

Several global regulatory organizations around the world, including the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives, the European Food Safety Authority and the Food & Drug Administration, have determined that high purity stevia extract is safe for consumption by the general population, including children, when consumed within recommended levels. After a series of reviews and approvals, these regulatory bodies have established an Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) for high purity steviol glycosides (≥95%) expressed in steviol equivalents of up to 4 milligrams per kilogram of body weight per day.

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