Safety and Benefits of Aspartame Confirmed in Updated Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Position Paper

The low-calorie sweetener aspartame can be safely enjoyed as part of a healthy diet guided by current nutrition recommendations, according to a newly updated position paper by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association).  The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (the Academy) is the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals.

In the Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Use of Nutritive and Nonnutritive Sweeteners,” published in the May issue of the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the Academy concludes:  “Use of aspartame and aspartame-sweetened products as part of a comprehensive weight loss or maintenance program by individuals may be associated with greater weight loss and may assist individuals with weight maintenance over time. There is good evidence that aspartame does not affect appetite or food intake.”

On the topic of aspartame and side effects, the Academy concludes: “Aspartame consumption is not associated with adverse effects in the general population. Studies have found no evidence of a wide range of adverse effects of aspartame, including hypersensitivity reactions, elevated blood methanol or formate levels, and hematopoietic or brain cancers. Neurologic changes tested included cognitive functions, seizures, headaches, and changes in memory or mood.”

Additionally, in relation to aspartame and other safety issues, the Academy concludes: “Limited evidence from human studies suggests that aspartame consumption is not associated with detrimental effect on blood methanol, eye problems, acne, blood pressure, seizure disorder, or attention deficit disorder in children. There is limited evidence from human studies for three special adult populations. In people with diabetes, aspartame consumption is not associated with elevated plasma phenylalanine and tyrosine levels, fasting glucose control, intolerance to aspartame, ophthalmologic effects, heart rhythm, or weight.”

Regarding the consumption of aspartame during pregnancy, the Academy states: “All FDA-approved nutritive sweeteners and nonnutritive sweeteners are approved for use by the general public, which includes pregnant and lactating women. The position of the Academy is that use of nutritive sweeteners is acceptable during pregnancy.”

According to the position paper, greater consumption of foods and beverages with added sugars is associated with higher calorie intake, yet lower diet quality.  The Academy recommends limiting added sugar and states that nonnutritive (low-calorie) sweeteners, like aspartame, are a safe way to restrict calories in the diet.  On the topic of taste, the Academy offered that “liking of sweet taste is innate” and that “preference for sweet taste may be genetic,” rather than due to the consumption of low-calorie sweeteners, as some have alleged.

The Academy offers suggestions for healthfully consuming nutritive and non-nutritive sweeteners, including:

  • Enjoy the sweet taste of foods and beverages but keep your calorie count lower by choosing from the variety of low- and reduced-calorie sweeteners approved for use by the Food and Drug Administration.
  • As part of a healthful eating plan as outlined in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, safely enjoy the range of calorie-containing and low-calorie sweeteners in foods and beverages.

An abstract, podcast and full PDF of the position paper can be found on the Academy’s website.  For more information, visit www.eatright.org.

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About The Calorie Control Council

The Calorie Control Council, established in 1966, is an international non-profit association representing the low-calorie and sugar-free food and beverage industry. Today it represents 60 manufacturers and suppliers of low-calorie, low-fat and light foods and beverages, including the manufacturers and suppliers of more than a dozen different dietary ingredients including aspartame, saccharin, stevia and sucralose. For more information, visit www.caloriecontrol.org.

Items of Interest

May 29, 2012 Statements