Aspartame Consumption for 12 Weeks Does Not Affect Glycemia, Appetite, or Body Weight of Healthy, Lean Adults in a Randomized Controlled Trial

Author(s): Higgins KA, Considine RV, and Mattes RD
Publication name: J Nutr 2018;148:650–657
Publication year: 2018


Background: Low-calorie sweeteners are often used to moderate energy intake and postprandial glycemia, but some evidence indicates that they may exacerbate these aims.
Objective: The trial’s primary aim was to assess the effect of daily aspartame ingestion for 12 wk on glycemia. Effects on appetite and body weight were secondary aims.
Methods: One hundred lean [body mass index (kg/m2): 18–25] adults aged 18–60 y were randomly assigned to consume 0, 350, or 1050 mg aspartame/d (ASP groups) in a beverage for 12 wk in a parallel-arm design. At baseline, body weight and composition were determined, a 240-min oral-glucose-tolerance test (OGTT) was administered, and measurements were made of appetite and selected hormones. Participants also collected a 24-h urine sample. During the intervention, the 0-mg/d ASP group consumed capsules containing 680 mg dextrose and 80 mg para-amino benzoic acid. For the 350-mg/d ASP group, the beverage contained 350 mg aspartame and the 1050-mg/d ASP group consumed the same beverage plus capsules containing 680 mg dextrose and 700 mg aspartame. Body weight, blood pressure, heart rate, and waist circumference were measured weekly. At weeks 4, 8, and 12, participants collected 24-h urine samples and kept appetite logs. Baseline measurements were repeated at week 12.
Results: With the exception of the baseline OGTT glucose concentration at 60 min (and resulting area under the curve value), there were no group differences for glucose, insulin, resting leptin, glucagon-like peptide 1, or gastric inhibitory peptide at baseline or week 12. There also were no effects of aspartame ingestion on appetite, body weight, or body composition. Compliance with the beverage intervention was ~95%.
Conclusions: Aspartame ingested at 2 doses for 12 wk had no effect on glycemia, appetite, or body weight among healthy, lean adults. These data do not support the view that aspartame is problematic for the management of glycemia, appetite, or body weight.


This randomized controlled trial (RCT) found that daily ingestion of aspartame for 12 weeks did not elicit any change in glycemia, incretin release or appetite in healthy, lean adults. The results of this study are consistent with findings of a wealth of short- and long-term studies that support that low calorie sweeteners do not affect blood glucose levels or appetite, when compared to a control. These findings confirm and extend the current understanding of a lack of negative effects of aspartame and other low calorie sweeteners on glycemia.

The primary outcome of this trial was the glycemic response to chronic aspartame ingestion. The outcomes show that responses after the ingestion of the 350- (corresponds to an intake of ~1 can of low-calorie soda/day) or 1050-mg/d doses (approximates the 95th percentile for consumers) were not significantly higher than the no-aspartame treatment either at baseline or after the 12-wk daily consumption period. Also, incretin release (GLP-1 and GIP) did not differ between the different dose groups at baseline or after 3 months either.

Furthermore, the study found no effect of daily aspartame consumption at either the moderate or high dose relative to the no-aspartame control at any time point and no shift in hunger, fullness, or desire-to-eat ratings over time in any treatment group.

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