INVC NEWS New Delhi, (LSE: PURE), the world's leading producer and innovator of great-tasting stevia ingredients for the global beverage and food industry, announced today it is committing to help Indian companies reduce 250 billion calories in the Indian diet by 2020. Rising obesity and diabetes rates are increasing concerns of health practitioners, government agencies and responsible companies in India. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates one person in 11 (422 million worldwide) has diabetes and predict that by 2030, diabetes will be the 7th leading cause of death. To address this, health conscious Indian consumers are determined to reduce sugar and calories in their diet. As a plant-based, zero-calorie, sustainable and great-tasting sweetener, stevia has achieved wide global acceptance. PureCircle has invested significant funds and resources into the research and development of stevia as the next global, natural sweetener. High-purity stevia leaf extract has gained global recognition and received regulatory safety stamps of approval. Multiple, major global regulatory organizations, including the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), World Health Organization’s Joint Expert Committee on Food Additive (JECFA), the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ), have determined high-purity stevia leaf extract to be safe for consumption by children, adults and special populations. The approval of Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) in December 2015 has opened a plethora of categories that can now incorporate stevia as a sweet source. Speaking at IDACON, 50th Annual National Conference of Indian Dietetic Association, Dr. Sidd Purkayastha, Vice President, Global Scientific & Regulatory Affairs at PureCircle said, “Ever increasing consumer desire for a natural ingredient and ‘clean’ labels have contributed to the world-wide growth of Stevia leaf extract. Stevia has no calories and has zero glycemic index and our extensive research has shown stevia is safe for all populations. Extensive safety and metabolism studies conducted by the scientific community and reviewed by major authorities led to the approval of stevia leaf extract, and supports stevia’s role in a healthy lifestyle.” Commenting on the announcement of India goals to cut down calorie level, Senior Director and Head of South Asia at PureCircle, Mr. Ajay Chandran said,“Unlike artificial sweeteners like sucralose, aspartame or saccharine, stevia leaf extracts come from a plant.  Stevia or Meethi Tulsi or Madhu Patra as it is called by Indian farmers is an ideal sweetener for Indian consumers to control calories without compromising great taste. India is a major part of our global calorie footprint. We are confident that by 2020 we will be able to help India to cut down 250 billion calories from Indian diet.” Dr. Keith Ayoob, an internationally known nutritionist and an Associate Professor Emeritus of Pediatrics at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, who also serves as an advisory board member for the PureCircle Stevia Institute, commented, “As a health professional, I believe offering people a wide selection of low-and-zero-sugar foods and beverages gives people a significant advantage to help them moderate their sugar intake and manage weight. The benefits of stevia are numerous: great taste, natural origin, sustainable, zero calories, zero glycemic load, and safe for the entire family, including children and pregnant women. Let’s remember that a healthy lifestyle is about moderation, balancing sugar intake and taking part in appropriate levels of exercise." Stevia is used as a sweetener in more than 16,000 foods and beverages around the globe today, including soft drinks, juices, waters, flavored milks, yogurts, baked goods, cereals, salad dressings, sauces, confections, tabletop sweeteners and more. When used correctly this non-nutritive sweetener can help achieve personal as well as public health goals to reduce calories and sugar intake, and improve overall health.