Products sweetened with aspartame and other low- and no-calorie sweeteners are safe and useful for weight management.

You’ve probably heard a lot about aspartame - or at least a lot of rumors. With more than 6,000 products on the market sweetened with aspartame including chewing gums, puddings, drinks, desserts, yogurt, vitamins and more, aspartame and other no- and low-calorie sweeteners provide that sweet taste you want in your favorite products, but help keep the calories in check.

Simply put, aspartame is made up of two amino acids (also known as the building blocks for proteins) and is found naturally in many of the foods we eat, including meats, eggs, grains, dairy products and vegetables.

Yet, many have concerns about sweeteners, especially aspartame, and the products that contain it. Common misconceptions include that aspartame contributes to cancer, causes increased appetite or food intake, promotes tooth decay and raises blood-glucose levels. Those are some daunting and inaccurate claims, as “More than 200 studies conducted on sweeteners over the past 40 years have proved aspartame’s safety time and time again, and hundreds of millions of people from all over the world have been enjoying this sweetener safely* for decades,1” according to Rhona Applebaum, Vice President and Chief Science and Health Officer of The Coca-Cola Company.

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* There is one, rare inherited disease where aspartame poses a risk and this Phenylketonuria (PKU).  Those with PKU cannot metabolize the essential amino acid phenylalanine (one of the building blocks for aspartame.In the U.S. and many other countries, routine screenings for PKU is required for all newborns.

Footnote:

1 Calorie Control Council. 2013. Aspartame. http://www.caloriecontrol.org/sweeteners-and-lite/sugar-substitutes/aspartame
American Cancer Society. 2011. Aspartame. http://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancercauses/othercarcinogens/athome/aspartame

2 National Institutes of Health, 2000. phenylketonuria (PKU) http://consensus.nih.gov/2000/2000phenylketonuria113html.htm

Jennifer McNally previously served as the vice president of content marketing and vice president of content, leading editorial operations for SmartBrief's portfolio of publications. In the latter role, she managed relationships with SmartBrief's association partners, while also overseeing the team responsible for the high-quality editorial products published on a daily basis. She currently works at Avalere Health.