American Dietetic Association evidence-based analysis puts questions to rest
In 2008, the ADA undertook an in-depth analysis of a list of questions about
aspartame using its "evidence analysis" approach, which systematically evaluates
human studies (within specific parameters) related to defined questions. After
the research analysis, conducted in this project by five registered dietitians
(RD) chosen and trained by the ADA, is completed, a separate expert group of
five RD's evaluates the work as it applies to the questions at hand. A
conclusion statement is then formulated, with a "grade" applied to each
conclusion statement to indicate the strength of evidence supporting that
The ADA project looked at the science around several questions raised by the
media and others over recent years. The final analysis, posted on the ADA
Evidence Analysis Library web site, puts these questions to rest. For
- Some have claimed that low calorie sweeteners like aspartame could have a
"rebound" effect that leads people to have more of an appetite or to eat more
food. The analysis found: "There is good evidence that aspartame does not
affect appetite or food intake." This consensus statement was given a "grade
1," the highest grade in the EAL scale.
- Others have implied, despite the implausibility, that low calorie sweeteners
actually "make" people gain weight. The ADA committee looked at studies in
adults and concluded that using aspartame in the context of a reduced calorie
diet either does not affect weight or is associated with increased weight
LOSS. This body of research was also given a "grade 1".
- For years urban myths about aspartame's supposed "negative effects" have
proliferated on the Internet. The committee evaluated peer-reviewed research
from the scientific literature on this topic and concluded that: "Aspartame
consumption is not associated with adverse effects in the general
population." Once again, the committee found that the support for this
statement is "grade 1."
The ADA and Ajinomoto jointly funded the overall evaluation, with research
analysts and expert committee members chosen by the ADA.
*Conclusion Statements are assigned a grade by an expert work group based
on the systematic analysis and evaluation of the supporting research evidence.
Grade I is good; grade II, fair; grade III, limited; grade IV signifies expert
opinion only; and grade V indicates that a grade is not assignable because there
is no evidence to support or refute the conclusion. Recommendations are also
assigned a rating by an expert work group based on the grade of the supporting
evidence and the balance of benefit versus harm. Recommendation ratings are
Strong, Fair, Weak, Consensus or Insufficient Evidence.