Study on Saccharin, Aspartame and Weight Gain in Rats Are Illogical and Not Applicable to Humans

ATLANTA (December 7, 2012) — Findings presented in a study titled “Saccharin and aspartame, compared with sucrose, induce greater weight gain in adult Wistar rats, at similar total caloric intake levels” are illogical. No changes in nutrition recommendations should be considered on the basis of this study.

The Calorie Control Council cites the following as serious limitations of the study:

  • The results of the study are illogical. Rats who ate a yogurt supplement sweetened with aspartame or saccharin consumed fewer calories from the yogurt than those who ate yogurt with sugar. All rats consumed the same number of calories overall. It does not seem logical that the rats could have eaten fewer or the same number of calories and still gained weight.
  • This study is counter to numerous human studies that have shown that low calorie sweeteners may assist individuals in losing weight and/or maintaining weight loss. In fact, a recent human study provided further evidence that replacing sugar-sweetened beverages with beverages sweetened with low-calorie sweeteners led to weight loss.
  • There are differences between rat and human bodily processes and it cannot be assumed that the reported results of this study would apply in humans. Numerous studies in humans have shown that consumption of low-calorie sweeteners does not lead to an increase in blood glucose levels, energy intake, feelings of hunger, or body weight when controlling for other factors.
  • This study utilized a total of 30 rats (10 per group) – too small a number to draw meaningful conclusions. Furthermore, with such small numbers if data from one rat markedly differs from that of the other rats the overall findings are skewed.

Robust scientific data stands in sharp contrast to the assertion that low-calorie sweeteners cause weight gain. Rather, research has demonstrated that low-calorie sweeteners can be useful tools for lowering and/or maintaining body weight – a critical issue in today’s environment of excess calorie intake and overweight. In fact, at least 14 human studies have shown that low calories sweeteners may assist individuals in losing weight and/or maintaining weight loss.

Items of Interest

December 7, 2012 Statements