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Don't Worry About That Diet Soda Habit: Artificial Sweeteners Are Harmless, Say Scientists

After years of being blamed for weight gain and metabolic issues, zero-calorie sweeteners and the drinks they flavor are being absolved.

Doug Meszler / Splash News/NewscomDoug Meszler / Splash News/NewscomGood news for fans of diet drinks and sugar-free sweets: You can safely ignore the hype about zero-calorie sweeteners somehow triggering weight gain and metabolic issues, according to a team of U.S. and European scientists.

The potential paradox of diet soda fueling weight gain had a lot of traction in popular health media. But this idea was based on inconsistent rodent research results, plus human studies that found links between artificial-sweetener consumption and ill effects but not a causal relationship .

Beyond Calories

A new article in the journal Obesity Reviews summarizes last year's "Beyond Calories—Diet and Cardiometabolic Health" conference, sponsored by the CrossFit Foundation. The event convened doctors, obesity researchers, molecular biologists, nutrition scientists, and other academics from the U.S., Denmark, and Germany to consider whether all calories are "equal with regard to effects on cardiometabolic disease and obesity."

"There is no doubt that positive energy balance, due to excessive caloric consumption and/or inadequate physical activity, is the main driver of the obesity and cardiometabolic epidemics," write Janet King and Laura Schmidt in the paper's introduction. But there's also evidence that "certain dietary components increase risk" for heart disease and weight gain in ways that go beyond a simple tradeoff between calories consumed and calories burned.

In the case of diet soda and its ilk, there are all sorts of theories about how these drinks could sneakily imitate the effects of sugary beverages. It was posited that they might trigger our sweet taste receptors to crave more sweet things after consumption, that they might alter our gut bacteria in a negative way, or that they induce a biochemical response as if real sugar had been consumed.

Some speculated that "caloric compensation occurs, negating calories 'saved,'" writes Allison Sylvetsky in a section of the article that deals with non-nutritive sweeteners (NNS). "This compensation could be psychological, whereby one's knowledge of consuming a lower‐calorie NNS‐containing alternative may lead to giving oneself permission for greater calorie ingestion at subsequent meals," or it "could be physiological, in which consumption of lower‐calorie NNS‐containing alternatives promotes heightened hunger and subsequently higher calorie intake."

But that wasn't much more than speculation. "Two separate meta‐analyses consisting of 10 and eight [randomized controlled trials] both indicated that substituting [artificial sweeteners] for sugar resulted in a modest weight loss in adults," notes Sylvetsky. "In 62 of 90 animal studies, NNS did not increase body weight, and a more recent meta‐analysis of 12 prospective cohort studies did not support an association between NNS consumption and BMI."

Embracing Aspartame

The most popular artificial sweetener these days is aspartame, which can be found in most diet soft drinks. Acesulfame Potatassium, Sucralose (sold in the U.S. as Splenda), and substances derived from the stevia plant are also popular. The paper cautions that aspartame has much more safety evidence on its side than the others, as it has been studied much more extensively. (There's no particular reason to think the others will prove any less safe, but they've been studied "for periods no longer than 16 weeks.")

Aspartame has been controversial for decades, but fears over its alleged links to everything from Alzheimer's disease to brain cancer, diabetes, leukemia, and weight gain have proven unfounded. (Such was also the case with saccharine before it.) And there have been ample randomized controlled trials to study its effects.

"It does not appear that any of these [trials] revealed adverse effects of NNS consumption on risk factors for cardiometabolic disease," writes Sylvetsky, summing up the research. In one six-month study, overweight and obese participants were assigned to drink either sucrose‐sweetened cola, aspartame‐sweetened cola, water, or low-fat milk. Researchers found "no significant differences between the effects of aspartame‐sweetened cola and water on body weight, visceral adiposity, liver fat and metabolic risk factors."

In "the longest intervention study conducted to date," 163 obese women were randomly assigned to have or avoid aspartame‐sweetened foods and drinks during a several-month weight-loss program, a one-year weight-maintenace program, and a two-year follow-up period. "The aspartame group lost significantly more weight overall," reports Sylvetsky, "and regained significantly less weight during the 1‐year maintenance and the 2‐year follow‐up than the no‐aspartame group."

Controlled trials "consistently demonstrate" that consuming aspartame and other artificial sweeteners is associated with decreased calorie consumption, the paper concludes. And "there are no clinical intervention studies involving chronic [sweetener] exposure in which [it] induced a weight increase relative to sugar, water or habitual diet."

The team of researchers suggests that more studies should be done on on the effects of artificially-sweetened beverages on children and on how consumption of these drinks is related to glucose tolerance and inflammation.

Photo Credit: MAVRIXONLINE.COM/DIETPEPSI DIETPEPSI.COM

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  • gormadoc||

    First it was cancer, then it was obesity, then heart issues. I'm sure the Luddites will find a new fake reason to oppose artificial sweeteners. Perhaps they're making sentient aspartame...

  • Crusty Juggler||

    Aspartame is the cause of my gout.

  • Citizen X||

    That, and all those uric acid crystals you injected into yourself on a dare.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    Hey, sometimes a guy will do anything for tepid slice of Papa John's, and really, the open sores on my toes are a great conversation starter.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    We all know those open sores are from chinchilla bites, Crusty.

  • Devastator||

    Gout is the result of shitty genetics and a bad diet, not aspartame.

  • MikeP2||

    I oppose artificial sweeteners in my own diet because I have years of direct personal evidence that my binging on diet DrP causes weight gain and water retention. No diet DrP and within days my metabolism changes.

    That doesn't mean a hill of beans to anyone else, but it's not a 'fake' reason for me to keep my kids from consuming them to any great degree.

    And as a research chemist (so yes, my personal metabolic studies were replicated and controlled for outside factors), it is easy to recognize that dropping any chemical into your body that evolution didn't design us to handle is a serious open question. Years of changing guidance on everything from salt to fats is proof enough that we have inadequate understanding of all the mechanisms that keep us living. Remember trans-fats. yeh...experts thought they were harmless until they weren't.
    It is little more than mindless arrogance to act like the "science is settled"

  • Marcus Aurelius||

    If I read correctly, it was a study of sugar vs sweetener. I think a) there are groups of people that react differently and b) need to look at sweetener vs water.

    I see a lot of people who lose a little weight when switching to diet but all else being equal doesn't seem to add up to what they should lose.

    And I really don't trust the science paid for by CrossFit...

  • JunkScienceIsJunk||

    need to look at sweetener vs water.

    Diet soda is not a replacement for water. Diet soda is a replacement for HFCS soda.

  • Flinch||

    While largely non-plussed by "diet" engineered sweeteners, cutting way back on anthing HFCS seems to be key: excess sugar in the bloodstream agitates vessel walls, which promotes plaque formation from what I have read. I'm no guru, but... I stay away from the diet sweeteners as a precaution, and somebody else can sort out the statistics. There may be nothing wrong with them at the end of the day, but I'm not going to be the guinea pig. Is there anything to the perceived risks of methylated compounds? I'm still reading...

  • Ben of Houston||

    Aspartame has been on the market for 53 years. There have been dozens of studies since most of us were children or not even born, many of which were explicitly designed to try and ban the stuff. If there was a meaningful, negative result, it would have been found by now. Either it has no negative effects or they are so small as to be undetectable by normal statistics. There is no meaningful difference between these two options.

    At what point does it stop being experimental? It doesn't have the 150 year history of Tylenol or the multi-millennia of aspirin.

  • JunkScienceIsJunk||

    And I really don't trust the science paid for by CrossFit...

    The science wasn't paid for by CrossFit. Read it again.

  • Chris Cat||

    Read the conflict of interest section of the actual paper. There are a lot of connections to cross fit. But I am not clear that cross fit has any interest in what foods people eat, so I am not that concerned.

    The 3 studies that did compare diet soda to water did indicate that people gain more weight drinking water!

    Anybody paying attention should remember that each study on things like health effects of sugar, coffee, wine, etc. tends to contradict the previous study. This is far from the final word on these issues.

    The Reason article massively simplifies the actual study results, which are pretty readable once you nail down the abbreviations. There is food for thought in the study concerning effects of nutrients beyond their calorie content but none of the data is incredibly decisive and it looks like studies may have been cherry picked in some cases.

    It is better to read the study yourself rather than take Ms Brown's interpretations. She seems to have no credentials and as a writer is under a lot of pressure to draw conclusions rather than communicate ambiguous results.

  • JunkScienceIsJunk||

    Read the conflict of interest section of the actual paper

    I'm not aware of any funding from CrossFit that was used to support the research. I could be wrong, but I give talks at conferences all the time that are sponsored by vendors but never have any COI declarations I have to make. Why? Because gathering to discuss a topic and conducting scientific experiments are two entirely different things.

  • I am the 0.000000013%||

    I actually feel like what you state is true for me, but I question my 'proof', and I'd like to question yours :)

    Is it possible that you simply drink less because your alternative beverage is less attractive than Dr. Pepper, and if there is a possibility that is true, is it possible that less trips to the fridge means less temptation to eat?

    After having stopped consuming almost all explicit sweeteners now for several years, my tastes have changed and I find sugar gives me a mouth burning sensation if not buffered with a fat, and artificial sweeteners have a very chemical taste.

  • Merl3noir||

    From reading the article, I did not really see that the study proclaims artificial sweeteners harmless, as the headline proclaims. In stead it just seems to say that there is no causation for studies that find a correlation between artificial sweeteners and weight gain, or suggestions that is causes cancer. To say it does not cause weight gain or cancer, is not the same as saying it is harmless. Hell even sugar, or even water, is not harmless. I do feel better about some sweeteners than others, artificial or otherwise.

  • Robert||

    You're damn right waster is not harmless! I just spent a week getting 22 lbs. of water off me that was straining my heart.

    Of course the water wouldn't've been there had I not been given all that prednisone for a parainfluenza B infection.

  • Flinch||

    Didn't somebody do a study decades back that showed water can be a carcinogen? If I recall, lab animals had excess water forced on them over a stretch of time to a point just shy of throwing potassium out of whack and causing a heart attack. Goes to show the old mantra of "moderation" is a good default position regarding living.

  • uunderstand||

    Did you see Man of La Mantra of Moderation for the 30 minutes it was open on Broadway?

  • JunkScienceIsJunk||

    Not just lab animals. There are several cases of humans killing themselves on water. I remember a few years back there was a contest on a radio station about who can drink the most water, and one of the participants died. The coroner's office ruled "water intoxication" as the cause of death. The subsequent law suit resulted in the radio station losing a lot of money.

  • Devastator||

    If you consumes vast amounts of water that you don't purge quickly enough you can die. Cancer takes time, you be will long since fucking dead by consuming that much water long before any signs of cancer show up in lethal proportions. That pure water can cause cancer is utter bullshit and pseudo science. If it did we would all be dead fuckers because we are 70-75% water at any given moment.

  • JunkScienceIsJunk||

    You should publish your results. Tell me how that goes.

  • Cyto||

    What was your replacement drink for Diet Dr Pepper?

    I'm guessing that caffeine might be the culprit, rather than aspartame, should the diet beverage's replacement be water or other caffeine free substance.

    Maybe try a blinded study with Dr Pepper Zero and regular Dr. Pepper. Ideally you (and those around you) should have no idea when you are switching from one to the other and back. Might be hard to pull off blinding by yourself, but it is the only way to really do a controlled study. Unblinded, the results are probably less informative than one would suspect.

  • Illocust||

    Don't need one, they taste bad. You can't have real soda if you drink that stuff, or you'll be reminded of how bad it is.

  • Procyon Rotor||

    I drink diet soda because I prefer the taste. Sugar soda is disgusting to me. Cloying and sticky as well, it just makes me more thirsty than before I drank it.

  • JunkScienceIsJunk||

    I agree. I prefer the taste and texture (for lack of a better word) of diet soda over sugary drinks that make my teeth feel furry.

  • Ben of Houston||

    So I'm not the only one. Sugared cokes are just too sweet and they make me feel like I need to brush my teeth.

  • Devastator||

    I fucking hate furry teeth feel.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    ^This. They are disgusting. I don't know how anyone can drink that stuff. Stevia too.

  • Microaggressor||

    Stevia tastes a little different, maybe an acquired taste, but I like it in black tea.

  • DaveSs||

    ^ ThisX10

    Every now and then my wife bakes something and substitutes the sugar with some chemical that vaguely resembles sugar.

    The nasty lingering aftertaste always gives it away.

  • Devastator||

    Your wife's cooking probably just sucks.

  • Devastator||

    Bullshit, I drink diet soda all the time, dropped 60lbs after exercising and dieting, and I still drink it to avoid the sugar. I do treat myself to a cane sugar soda (cream or coke) occassionally as a treat and go right back to diet soda.

  • Chasman1965||

    Depends. I have been drinking diet soda since the early 1990s. I've gotten to a point where I prefer the diet drinks (except diet Pepsi) to regular sodas.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    No sugar tonight in my coffee, no sugar tonight in my tea.

  • Sometimes a Great Notion||

    God damn Canadian's who talk shit about American Woman. No thank you.

  • I am the 0.000000013%||

    Whoa, a simple 'stay away from me eee' would have sufficed.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    You can safely ignore the hype about zero-calorie sweeteners somehow triggering weight gain and metabolic issues, according to a team of U.S. and European scientists.

    These would be the same scientists bent on world domination through the introduction of population-pacifying chemicals into our water supplies and food sources? Thanks, but I think I'll stick with good, wholesome sugar in my carbonated soft drinks.

  • Bearded Spock||

    "Fist, have you ever seen a commie drink a glass of diet soda?"

  • Microaggressor||

    By wholesome sugar, you must mean the real, Mexican stuff. Will it survive The Donald's trade wars?!

  • Marcus Aurelius||

    That white powder they're caring across the border isn't flour, amigo.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    Spoiler alert: There already are high tariffs on sugar.

    I remember reading another WW column years ago, where he explained that it is cheaper to import sweetened ice tea mix and extract the sugar from it, than to import pure sugar.

  • ipsquire||

    The scientist say nothing of the sort. It's the journalists and politicians who can't understand what the scientists write who are bent on world domination premised entirely on weak correlation. "Sedentary people suffer fewer bullfighting injuries" becomes "Exercise causes your intestines to fall out".

  • Flinch||

    Sugar cane juice [fresh squeezed] is delicious, but HFCS is something different. Besides... most the soda companies put way too much sweetener in their drinks to begin with. I generally can't stand anything produced by coca-cola for that reason. It would be nice to see their internal research dealing with perceived flavor experience over the decades as they moved from bottles to cans, then plastic. There is a taste difference that I noted decades ago: I enjoyed my dr. peppper and 7up best when it was bottled - I could blind taste test it every time. I suspect those formulations are not produced anymore as focus on dealing with aluminum and plastic components tinting flavor rule the day.
    Try this instead of something engineered: an ounce or two of cane juice, fresh squeezed lime [a whole one, not a slice] then top off with club soda.

  • ||

    sponsored by the CrossFit Foundation

    So, the definitive word on sweeteners from a foundation built around the concept of "muscle confusion"? Pass.

    I appreciate that Glassman's a celebrity of sorts and a devout libertarian, but that's only good for so many miles.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    His celebrity can go for miles and miles and miles and miles?

  • ||

    Well, it's certainly gone a lot further than he's been able to hobble personally.

  • JunkScienceIsJunk||

    No, it's from scientists.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    he event convened doctors, obesity researchers, molecular biologists, nutrition scientists, and other academics from the U.S., Denmark, and Germany to consider whether all calories are "equal with regard to effects on cardiometabolic disease and obesity."

    My God.

  • Bearded Spock||

    Look, I'm not one of those weird blue noses from the 1970s who saw erect penii in every baby food advertisement, but the Pepsi ad featured in this article is rather...suggestive.

    Mind you, I'm not complaining, just a bit surprised at how blatant it is.

  • MikeP2||

    "Don't Worry About That Diet Soda Habit: Artificial Sweeteners Are Harmless, Say Scientists"

    Scientists aren't saying that. Your title is ridiculous and has no support in the article or links you provide.
    What they do say is that animal testing provides evidence that there may be more complex interactions taking place that we do not yet fully understand. Observational studies in humans do not support this, but they also do not refute this. More data is needed. You state this to some degree in the last line that has no match to the title.

    The use of the irresponsible click-bait title is little better than the crap you see from quack sites. You should be ashamed.

  • ||

    Science is never settled and no one said that.

    There's now a good body of evidence that artificial sweeteners are harmless. That's exactly what the post title says. No more, no less.

    What exactly are you looking for someone to say? We're still not sure? We're NEVER fucking sure. The science is only as good as the last set of studies.

    What we do know is that we've discovered nothing to date that should dissuade someone from using these substances.

  • ||

    What we do know is that we've discovered nothing to date that should dissuade someone from using these substances.

    Not to mention that, as libertarians, we're really more against the government recommendation and subsidization of these substances (or their ill-effects) rather than people choosing to knowingly put stuff in their own bodies.

  • MikeP2||

    "There's now a good body of evidence that artificial sweeteners are harmless. That's exactly what the post title says"

    Wow...reread the title. It doesn't say that at all. In fact, "Artificial Sweeteners Are Harmless, Say Scientists", directly states a fact that is no where evident in the data and linked reports.

    What the science says is that animal studies indicate some issues, but human studies are inconclusive.

    "What we do know is that we've discovered nothing to date that should dissuade someone from using these substances."

    that's true. but that does not at all imply that "artificial sweeteners are harmless".

  • JunkScienceIsJunk||

    You should read beyond the headline. It's a well reasoned and well written article.

    but human studies are inconclusive

    Ain't that the truth. The original correlative studies pointing to artificial sweeteners as a problem never showed a causal relationship in humans. I think this article makes mention of that. To say that they're "harmless" in a headline as shorthand is like saying "The flying spaghetti monster doesn't exist." Granted, we have no evidence to directly support that statement, but it can be assumed by any reasonable person that such a headline would mean that we're casting doubt on previous studies that suggested the flying spaghetti monster DOES exist.

  • Ron||

    The key issue is controlled, but people not on a study who are not controlled will consume more since the body needs sugars and when it doesn't get enough it tricks the body into consuming more hoping that it will get what it needs and since it doesn't it will start to store fat. Controlled studies are not real life.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    Do you know who else liked control?

  • Bearded Spock||

    Yoda?

  • SIV||

  • Citizen X||

  • ||

    Eugene Polley?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Hillary "the shakes" Clinton?

  • Marcus Aurelius||

    Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct?

  • Marcus Aurelius||

    Dr Robert Adler?

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    The biologist from Annihilation (book, not movie)?

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    Snoop Dogg (bitches, can't control them)?

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    Phillip Zimbardo?

  • Robert||

    Ed Platt?

  • Earth Skeptic||

    Maxwell Smart?

  • newshutz||

    I'm loving it.

  • Mendelism||

    Janet Jackson?

  • Ken Shultz||

    "Artificial Sweeteners Are Harmless, Say Scientists"

    Science doesn't work that way. Journalists often interpret scientific studies that way, but scientists generally only make statements like that when someone is paying them to make asses of themselves.

    A scientist might say that there is no evidence that artificial sweeteners at typical doses are harmful, but it is unlikely that they would say "Artificial sweeteners are harmless".

    P.S. Too much of anything is often toxic, hard on your liver, etc., etc.

    P.P.S. Libertarianism isn't in what positions you hold. Libertarianism is how you get there. It's just really hard to get to some positions using reason. If the world were more dedicated to reason, it would necessarily be more libertarian. That's why real libertarians insist on reason. Teaching people how to get there is more important than getting them to hold any particular position, and teaching people to support any "libertarian" position, no matter how unreasonable the argument used to support it, probably does more to undermine libertarianism than anything else could. I'm sure ENB, Robby, and Dalmia do not understand this. They probably think we're all just in love with Trump or something.

  • ||

    You're picking nits. "no harmful effects found" may not be 100% identical to "are harmless", but anyone with a clue knows that nothing is definitive. So "are harmless" seems like acceptable English phrasing to me.

  • Ken Shultz||

    The so called "nits" have been piling up for more than a year now.

    And it's not a nit. Sloppy statements of non-fact are a habit with this one.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "Libertarianism isn't in what positions you hold. Libertarianism is how you get there. It's just really hard to get to some positions using reason. If the world were more dedicated to reason, it would necessarily be more libertarian. That's why real libertarians insist on reason. Teaching people how to get there is more important than getting them to hold any particular position, and teaching people to support any "libertarian" position, no matter how unreasonable the argument used to support it, probably does more to undermine libertarianism than anything else could. I'm sure ENB, Robby, and Dalmia do not understand this. They probably think we're all just in love with Trump or something."

    Honestly, I write a whole paragraph about why it's important to get basic shit right, and you still say it's nitpicking?

    Are you drunk?

  • JunkScienceIsJunk||

    I think it was a perfectly reasonable comment to say that in the limited space of a headline, that was adequate phrasing. Reason is also a little sensationalist, so you have to take these headlines with a grain of salt anyway. But the underlying point is that the notion that artificial sweeteners mimic sugary drinks it isn't settled science. That's kind of a big deal.

  • SIV||

    Why do you still support Trump after he pardoned a dead Black man for sex crimes,Ken? You're like, such a hypocrite.

  • The_Hoser||

    +1 Big Black Johnson

  • Ken Shultz||

    I know you're kidding, but what you wrote is funny because it's true . . .

    It's not enough that I denounced Trump for his unconstitutional attack on Assad.

    It's not enough that I denounced him for using trade to pressure the Chinese into pressuring the North Koreans (hope it works).

    It's not enough that I want an open borders treaty with Mexico.

    It's not enough that . . .

    I think there is a large contingency of people out there who think it's wrong to analyze Trump on the issue. It's not enough to oppose Trump on an issue. Anything short of opposing Trump for being Trump is pro-Trump and inexcusable.

    I supported Obama on certain issues, when it was appropriate, too. Back then, assessing Obama on the issues was carrying water for Soros.

    I even criticize Rand Paul when he's wrong . . . which is deeply offensive to my fellow libertarians, most of whom seem to support him because he's Rand Paul. You're supposed to support Rand Paul because he's Rand Paul, you see. Anything short of that is being a Marxist for the deep state, the war state, and maybe even the state of California.

    There are people I'll support because of whom they are: family, my dog, the Capitals.

    I don't hate anybody for whom they are either. I hate the communists and the Nazis for what they did, do, advocate, etc. No, I don't hate Trump for being Trump. I guess I'm just just trying too hard to be rational or intellectually honest or something equally deplorable.

  • Robert||

    Which is why you make sense.

    It's hard to fight the tendencies, though. I've developed a lot of rxn formation over Trump to push back vs. the unreasonableness of the bloggers here. It's so easy to get sucked into defending the person or organiz'n rather than the issue. I can understand why people here have gotten sucked in by Rand Paul, but make no mistake, they have been suckers in some cases—well, at least one egregious case that we've already harped on aplenty here. These people count on that tendency.

    In some cases a "thing" of some kind becomes a substitute way of getting suckered when looked at superficially. One time that worked against Rand Paul was when people seized on a remark of his to think he'd jumped on the vaccine-autism bandwagon, when he was actually referring to encephalopathy from pertussis vaccine.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Don't Worry About That Diet Soda Habit: Artificial Sweeteners Are Harmless, Say Scientists.

    Soda tax hardest hit?

  • Marcus Aurelius||

    Yeah, but what about Brawndo? It's got electrolytes!

  • Citizen X||

    It's what plants crave.

  • ||

    I like Reason, but man sometimes you just do the same bullshit you complain about.

    The research doesn't say anything like what your headline suggests.
    1. They aren't saying a diet drink habit isn't harmful.
    2. They aren't even saying artificial sweeteners are harmless.

    What they are saying is that the sweetner itself isn't a pathway to obesity.

    However if you read the paper you see that they say other interesting things:
    1. Displacing water from your diet for diet drinks will impede weight control because fresh water consumption is vital to weight loss.
    2. "Sugar consumption may provide relief from stress by turning down activity in the HPA axis." Which means fat producing stress hormones won't kick in.

    Sucrose and HFCS both lead to cardiovascular risk when taken as 25%+ of caloric intake. However that is old news. You are still better off drinking water over diet soda.

    The lead researcher has her PhD in veterinary science. I am not sure what got her onto this grant, but whatever. I guess we are all animals.

  • JunkScienceIsJunk||

    What they are saying is that the sweetner itself isn't a pathway to obesity.

    But that's the entire point. All the other stuff you list are independent of the act of drinking diet soda. That is, you can choose to drink both diet soda AND maintain proper water intake, and you can choose to drink diet soda instead of sugary beverages. When this was presented as an option a few years ago, diet soda opponents argued that diet soda was inherently bad for you because the artificial sweeteners did bad things. This idea appears to be losing traction.

  • Doug Heffernan||

    I was quite thrilled when the diet pepsi formula went back to the aspartame formula a few months ago, after pulling it in 2015.
    It was 3 years of pure h*ll. Because while they did have a classic sweetener version with aspartame for some of that time, it was not reliably available.

    Unlike when the aspartame-free formula replaced the aspartame version in 2015 with lots of publicity, advertising, and other media, when the primary formula switched back to aspartame, it was a soft roll-out with no media whatsoever. I guess they didn't want to scare those with an aversion to aspartame.

  • mjerryfuerst||

    Phew !! If this wasn't the case I would be on borrowed time

  • Longtobefree||

    So now someone will come out with Cyclamate sweetened soda again and we can have diet drinks that taste good?
    I mean it has been almost half a century since they stopped us boomers from having a tasty beverage, and we can see how many of us actually died from cyclamate poisoning, right?

    1958, it was designated GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) by the United States Food and Drug Administration
    1966 - The released study was showing that eight out of 240 rats fed a mixture of saccharin and cyclamates, at levels of humans ingesting 550 cans of diet soda per day, developed bladder tumors
    1969 - Department of Health, Education & Welfare Secretary Robert Finch, bypassing Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Herbert L. Ley, Jr., removed the GRAS designation from cyclamate and banned its use in general-purpose foods
    Cyclamate is approved as a sweetener in at least 130 countries.[12]
    In the late 1960s cyclamate was banned in the United Kingdom but was approved after being re-evaluated by the European Union in 1996.[13]
    In the Philippines cyclamate was banned until the Philippine Food and Drug Administration lifted the ban in 2013, declaring it safe for consumption.[14][15]
    Cyclamate is currently banned in the United States.

    Or, maybe, we can just ignore all this bullshit like we ignore all the other bullshit about what is "good for you" or "bad for you". The feds don't know, they tell us they are wrong and will change the guidelines every five years.

  • Flinch||

    Our FDA... can we just thank those people, send them home, and demolish their offices to prevent return?

  • mro||

    I hope so! I use a cyclamate sweetener in my coffee. Those little tablets you used to be able to get here. I got a several year supply when I was in Europe. Wish they would lift the ban on them in the U.S. Are they sold in Canada?

  • Miner49er||

    I believe it is well proven that aspartame metabolizes to formaldehyde, a proven carcinogen.

    The Federal government and activist groups are campaigning to ban adhesives that degrade to formaldehyde. Why not criticize them? It seems more harmful to me the consume a substance that turns into formaldehyde in my body that to be near a piece of plywood that may have been glued together with glue that contains, or degrades to, formaldehyde.

    Like others in this comment stream, I have found that eliminating ALL soft drinks from my diet has been very good for my health. In a situation where I must consume a soft drink, I use one with natural sugar and dilute it with water (or gin).

  • JunkScienceIsJunk||

    There are lots of good reasons to stop drinking diet soda. The acidity, sodium, caffeine content, and still (somewhat) legitimate concerns about BPH in cans can influence certain people to stop drinking them. But none of them have to do with artificial sweeteners. That's the point of the article.

    We need to embrace science, not use personal anecdotes to peddle a message or to enact legislation (e.g., in the case of cities with soda taxes).

  • PoxOnBothYourHouses||

    Okay, here's the scoreboard.

    (1) Eggs were bad; now they're good.
    (2) Fats raised cholesterol; now they don't.
    (3) Daily salt intake had to be lowered; now it can be raised.
    (4) Diet sodas were uber-bad; now they're fine.
    (5) Now it's sugar that's bad (though high-fructose corn syrup isn't any worse). Stay tuned.
    (6) Bacon and sausage actually do seem to have slight ill effects in large quantities over years. Not that I'll stop eating them.

    Upcoming:
    (1) Wackos still think GMO's are bad. They're not.
    (2) Wackos still think Round-Up is bad. It isn't..
    (3) Wackos still think organic is better. It isn't.
    (4) Wackos still think inoculations cause autism. They don't.
    (5) Wackos say everyone should avoid gluten. Not so unless you actually have celiac disease (and few do).

    Film at eleven.

  • Kyfho Myoba||

    Uhhh, #4 is wrong. The trashing of Andrew Wakefield's paper has been refuted for several years now. The lead researcher won his case. There have been a number of whistle blowers out of the CDC that have put the lie to this. #2 is becoming more and more clear that glyphosate is carcinogenic.

    Sometimes scientists lie. You have seen the studies that show an astonishing percentage of research is fraudulent, right? You don't have to be an elected politician to be a bad person. Corruption is everywhere.

    Don't be such a gullible schmuck.

  • JunkScienceIsJunk||

    You have seen the studies that show an astonishing percentage of research is fraudulent

    Could you please cite this? And, for shorthand, give us an estimate of this "astonishing percentage"?

  • Bill Goode||

    I am absolutely dumbfounded that Reason Magazine cares so little about the health of its readers. In at least two articles in the past, Reason has promoted LSD. Now Reason is promoting Aspartame. It seems Reason Magazine is a branch of the Food & Drug Administration instead of the libertarian magazine and website it claims to be.

    I am appalled at Reason's lack of concern for the health of its readers.

  • Bill Goode||

    I am absolutely dumbfounded that Reason Magazine cares so little about the health of its readers. In at least two articles in the past, Reason has promoted LSD. Now Reason is promoting Aspartame. It seems Reason Magazine is a branch of the Food & Drug Administration instead of the libertarian magazine and website it claims to be.

    I am appalled at Reason's lack of concern for the health of its readers.

  • JunkScienceIsJunk||

    You have a funny definition of the word "promote".

  • JunkScienceIsJunk||

    The common plea from the anti-science organic crowd is: "but they're chemicals!" And as soon as someone utters that sentence, you can safely dismiss everything they say after it.

  • Flinch||

    True enough: everything is chemical - including the organics served up across the country. Come to think of it, that guy who picked his nose on the elevator at work this morning flicked those chemicals somewhere... but nobody wrote about it.

  • Kyfho Myoba||

    Another example of reason's establishmentarian bias. If an establishment scientist says it, it must be true! And if you don't believe it you're a Conspiracy Theorist! (The worst thing you can be)

    First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, and then you win. Phase 2: complete.

  • JunkScienceIsJunk||

    If an establishment scientist says it, it must be true! And if you don't believe it you're a Conspiracy Theorist!

    Yeah, pretty much.

  • JunkScienceIsJunk||

    Little known fact: the origins of my username on this site actually came from an article about how evil diet soda was -- which was an argument used to justify the soda tax in Philadelphia. I've come to regret the username because it was clear that the politicians weren't citing the scientific findings themselves, but rather a journalist's interpretation of scientific findings he didn't understand. My name should be JunkJournalismIsJunk.

    Anyway, despite the many flaws in the scientific community, it's quite literally the best thing we have to answer such questions. We should seek to continue to support improvements in the process rather than throw the baby out with the bathwater. Part of the improvement in the process is dissemination of results in a standard manner easily understandable by the layperson. Things are a-changin'... the last grant proposal I submitted basically required that I write two versions of the same proposal -- one for scientific review, and the other targeted to the layperson. So I think scientists understand the need for this. But I wish journalists understood this. They're often the only interface between the scientific community and the layperson, and I think journalists underestimate their importance.

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  • RenatoBR||

    I'll stick with plain water, thank you.

  • Pat001||

    A new study suggests that most new studies aren't worth the paper they're printed on.

  • Miter Broller||

    Maybe, but are these artificial sweeteners something that the human body needs to consume? Me thinks not.

  • JunkScienceIsJunk||

    Needs? Where are you getting that? This looks like a strawman...

  • Pat001||

    Straws are next on the list of things to be banned.

  • ||

    BS

    it makes you look more ugly. Like prune face

  • SantaFeSteve||

    Did not read as if the issue about exotoxicity and brain damage was really studied. The recommendation to study inflammation tends to confirm by suspicion

    It is best to be objective when writing.

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