THE TRUTH ABOUT ASPARTAME
"ASPARTAME LEADS TO DIABETES AND INCREASES OVERALL BODY WEIGHT & BMI"
Aspartame - we’ve all heard of it (and if you hadn’t, you have now!)
Whether you may or may not know, aspartame is an artificial sweetener that is roughly 200 times sweeter than sucrose (table sugar) - that’ll hit the sweet spot!
This super sweet substance is commonly used as a sugar substitute in foods and beverages - a very good option for those looking to cut back on their calorie/sugar intake.
Aspartame is a methyl ester of the aspartic acid/phenylalanine dipeptide with the trade names, NutraSweet, Equal, and Canderel (boring!)
Unfortunately, there’s a problem with Aspartame, and it’s not the actual product itself, it’s all the misleading information and claims that are tied to it.
You may have heard some negative things about the sweet stuff, like how it…
Increases the risk of cancer
Increases the risk of diabetes
Increases the relative risk of developing metabolic syndrome
Increases body weight
Increases the risk of Alzheimer’s disease
People are unfortunately lead to believe (without actually knowing the facts) that these health implications are as a result of consuming aspartame.
People are lead to believe misleading facts without knowing the strength behind the claims or where the evidence came from (that’s if people are even looking at research when making their claims!)
Unfortunately, like with many other nutritional myths (carbs past 6pm make you fat, too much protein damages your kidneys etc), there are so many false claims from people who quite simply don’t know what they’re talking about, or at least they don’t do their research properly.
This cycle then repeats itself – more uneducated people pass on ill information which will go and cause a concern to the next person, and then the next person, so on.
If only we lived in the 21st century where we had access to advanced equipment and techniques that allowed us to undertake various studies to find out the real truth, to understand what REALLY matters… 💡
Oh wait we do? My bad... ok let’s look at the research!
When I say let’s, what I mean I, is that I will do the reading and pick out the important parts so you don’t have to go and read a full paper (they can be very long and rather wordy!)
First of all, let’s look at a study that claims Aspartame is bad for us and the reason why this studies claim isn’t particularly strong.
“At least daily consumption of diet soda was associated with a 36% greater relative risk of incident metabolic syndrome and a 67% greater relative risk of incident type 2 diabetes compared with non consumption” 
THE PROBLEM WITH THE CLAIM
First of all, not all studies are efficient. Some have variables that cannot be controlled, yet these variables will be a part of the final conclusion - not particularly accurate.
Some studies are essentially claiming that if you drink diet coke (for example) your chances of getting type 2 diabetes will increase.
Notice how they use the word “associated”- correlation doesn’t equal causation!
Just because someone has previously/or is in danger of developing type 2 diabetes it doesn’t mean it’s because of aspartame or other artificial sweeteners.
Diabetics will take part in a study and will drink diet drinks, they are then asked if they have diabetes, when they say yes, it’s then concluded that diabetes and artificial sweeteners are linked, when they aren’t – what a load of rubbish!
It’s like saying
“do you have diabetes” yes.
“do you drink artificially sweetened drinks” yes.
“Ok so we now therefore conclude that artificially sweetened drinks increase your risk of getting diabetes, as you have diabetes and also consume artificial sweeteners”
No! it is an association, not necessarily a cause.
Could it not be that it has something to do with the fact that these people may be less health seeking and actually other factors of their life are the reasons why they’re developing these health problems? (sedentary lifestyles, poor food choices, stress etc)
Not to mention, a lot of studies that make claims like this actually use animal testing to reach their conclusion and it is widely known that animal testing very rarely/almost never translates to the human body!
This infographic from Mac-Nutrition Uni shows the order of hierarchy in which we should ideally follow when accessing and analysing research papers, you can see that animal research is ranked low.
If a person is considered to be at risk of developing health problems due to being overweight, then actually factoring in artificial sweeteners will reduce caloric intake, thus leading to a potential reduction in weight.
And guess what?
A reduction in weight will improve these health markers!
Anyway, let’s check out this study that speaks a little more sense.
Replacement of caloric sweeteners with low-calorie sweetener alternatives
Meta-analysis of 15 RCT’s (randomised control trials – the studies we tend to care more about) showed that switching from caloric sweeteners to sweetener alternatives resulted in a significant reduction in BMI, fat mass & waist circumference (what we just spoke about) 
This study shows that over 15 different randomised control trials, individuals who take a sweetener alternative drink over a caloric sweetened drink, thus reducing calories, had improvements in their BMI, fat mass & waist circumference!
This is obviously debunking one myth in particular, but you can see how other myths are concluded based on ill information and hearsay.
So, what’s the takeaway from all this?
Be aware of claims that are being pushed on you, people like to brainwash others
Have an open mind when discussing topics like these but question everything
Believe nothing (or at least sit on the fence) until you have spoken to a professional or have researched the subject from a trusted source
Aspartame, for now (as research is forever changing) is considered safe for human consumption
If consuming artificially sweetened drinks will help you in your current situation (i.e. losing weight by replacing calorie sweetened drinks with artificially sweetened drinks) then by all means consume them.
The amount of aspartame you would need to consume to cause any health problems is a RIDICULOUS amount, it’s really not worth worrying about.
Aspartame won’t kill you, but obesity will!