Research Found No Differences in Sensitivities, even Among People Self-reporting Ailments
(ATLANTA) — A new study commissioned by the Food Standards Agency (the group responsible for food safety in Europe) and published in the journal Plos One demonstrates that aspartame is not the cause of various sensitivities, even among people who believe they are “aspartame sensitive.” The study, conducted by experts at the Yorkshire UK-based Hull York Medical School, examined 14 symptoms and found no differences in research participants’ self-reported data nor physical data in blood or urine. Atlanta-based Calorie Control Council took a closer look at the study.
The Study Design
“Aspartame Sensitivity? A Double Blind Randomised Crossover Study” looked at the effects of consuming aspartame in individuals who reported they were aspartame sensitive1. Both groups were given a cereal bar – one sweetened with aspartame and one without aspartame. Since the study was a double-blind, randomized one, neither the researchers nor the participants knew the order in which the bars were given. Participants then answered questionnaires which evaluated various symptoms (including headaches, mood swings, nausea, dizziness, tingling, bloating, visual problems, etc.) and provided blood and other samples. Participants who originally reported aspartame sensitivity were then compared with participants without “aspartame sensitivity.”
The researchers found that there were no differences in symptoms between those who felt they were “aspartame sensitive” and those who did not. In fact, those who felt they were “aspartame sensitive” reported a similar rate of symptoms after eating the cereal bar with aspartame and the cereal bar without aspartame. The study authors conclude, “This independent study gives reassurance that the acute ingestion of aspartame does not have any detectable psychological or metabolic effects in humans.”
What this Means
“This new study should give people additional confidence in the safety of aspartame,” noted Sylvia Poulos, PhD, RD with the Calorie Control Council. “The researchers went beyond the classic measurements and evaluated complete pathways of lipids, proteins, and other markers that may indicate differences in health and well-being2. At a time when overweight and obesity have reached huge proportions, aspartame — and the food and beverages that contain it – serve as a tool to help people manage their weight and daily calorie intake. This study should give people piece of mind that aspartame is a safe and helpful addition to the diet.”
A History of Safe Use
Aspartame is one of the most exhaustively studied food ingredients and it has been tested in more than 100 scientific studies prior to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval in 1981. In addition to the FDA, the Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) of the World Health Organization (WHO) and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the Scientific Committee Food (SCF) of the European Union and regulatory agencies of more than 100 countries have reviewed aspartame and found that its use was safe.
In 2007, an extensive evaluation of the safety of over 500 studies related to aspartame and published in Critical Reviews in Toxicology also confirmed the safety of aspartame. In 2013, following a comprehensive review of studies on aspartame and its metabolites, the European Food Safety Authority reaffirmed the safety of aspartame. This study adds to the large evidence of studies reaffirming that aspartame is safe.