Thursday, September 3, 2009

Aspartame Part 1 Aspartame: Defense

I like to look at both sides of things before making my own decision about what to do about it. I've been hearing a lot about aspartame, good and bad, and decided to look into it on my own. This post is about the positive facts I've read. I'll be honest though and tell you that I had to weed through a lot of negative web pages to find positive ones; most of which are companies that sell aspartame sweeteners.

The first site I visited was The Aspartame Information Service. This is the opening paragraph from their website:

Aspartame is a low calorie sweetener that helps people to control their weight. It is made from two building blocks of protein, just like those found naturally in many everyday foods such as meat, fish, cheese, eggs and milk. Aspartame is digested by the body in exactly the same way as these other protein foods and so does not bring anything new to our diet. It has been safety-tested in over 200 studies and has been approved for use in foods and drinks by more than 100 countries. People all over the world have been enjoying the taste of aspartame for more than twenty five years.

Under their Frequently Asked Questions, I found this:

What are the benefits of using aspartame?

Today, more than 500 million people around the world regularly choose products with aspartame. Calorie-conscious consumers like aspartame because it's low in calories and tastes like sugar. Aspartame is 200 times sweeter than sugar and can replace up to 99 percent of the calories in soft drinks. It also intensifies and extends certain flavors, especially fruit flavors. As a sugar-substitute, aspartame helps diabetics improve their quality of life by enabling them to follow nutrition recommendations and choose from a much wider variety of good-tasting foods and beverages. Aspartame is also tooth-friendly. It does not promote tooth decay and is endorsed by the American Dental Association.

Under their News section, according to Health Canada "there is no evidence to suggest that the consumption of foods containing this sweetener, according to the provisions of the Food and Drug Regulations and as part of a well-balanced diet, would pose a health hazard to consumers."

And under their Opinions tab they share this information:

American Dietetic Association evidence-based analysis puts questions to rest

April 2009

In 2008, the ADA undertook an in-depth analysis of a list of questions about aspartame using its "evidence analysis" approach, which systematically evaluates human studies (within specific parameters) related to defined questions. After the research analysis, conducted in this project by five registered dietitians (RD) chosen and trained by the ADA, is completed, a separate expert group of five RD's evaluates the work as it applies to the questions at hand. A conclusion statement is then formulated, with a "grade" applied to each conclusion statement to indicate the strength of evidence supporting that conclusion.*

The ADA project looked at the science around several questions raised by the media and others over recent years. The final analysis, posted on the ADA Evidence Analysis Library web site, puts these questions to rest. For example,

  • Some have claimed that low calorie sweeteners like aspartame could have a "rebound" effect that leads people to have more of an appetite or to eat more food. The analysis found: "There is good evidence that aspartame does not affect appetite or food intake." This consensus statement was given a "grade 1," the highest grade in the EAL scale.
  • Others have implied, despite the implausibility, that low calorie sweeteners actually "make" people gain weight. The ADA committee looked at studies in adults and concluded that using aspartame in the context of a reduced calorie diet either does not affect weight or is associated with increased weight LOSS. This body of research was also given a "grade 1".
  • For years urban myths about aspartame's supposed "negative effects" have proliferated on the Internet. The committee evaluated peer-reviewed research from the scientific literature on this topic and concluded that: "Aspartame consumption is not associated with adverse effects in the general population." Once again, the committee found that the support for this statement is "grade 1."

The ADA and Ajinomoto jointly funded the overall evaluation, with research analysts and expert committee members chosen by the ADA. For complete access to the full report, and to review all of the questions, along with access to summaries of the research that was considered for each, click here.

You can visit the Aspartame Resource Center for more information on debunking the "myths" of aspartame being harmful.

The Aspartame Information Center also has a slew of positive information on the use of aspartame.

Green Facts also has a break down on the facts of aspartame not causing health problems.

Calorie Control Council goes into detail on the following topics about aspartame:

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