Low calorie sweeteners, and specifically aspartame, have been shown to be helpful in reducing energy intake, a consideration for all of us who wish to maintain or lose weight. For people with diabetes, aspartame can play an important role in a healthy regime, as it provides the sweet taste that people enjoy without impacting blood glucose or insulin levels.

The speculative suggestions, made by researchers at INSERM in a paper1 published recently, are not supported by the significant body of science which exists on low calorie sweeteners and their (lack of) impact on either insulin levels or blood sugar2. In addition, because aspartame is completely digested to its component parts, all of which occur in our everyday diet, it is physiologically impossible that aspartame could increase the risk of Type-2 diabetes.

One of the key risk factors for Type-2 diabetes is being overweight, and studies have shown that reduction of even a small percentage of overall body weight can significantly reduce that risk. Careful review of the usefulness of aspartame for weight-reduction have shown that significant results can be achieved, for example by swapping caloric beverages for aspartame-sweetened drinks 3,4.

References:

  1. Fagherazzi et al. Consumption of artificially and sugar-sweetened beverages and incident type 2 diabetes in the Etude Epidémiologique auprès des femmes de la Mutuelle Générale de l’Education Nationale-European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition cohort.
    American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. January 2013.
  2. Renwick AG MS. Sweet-taste receptors, low-energy sweeteners, glucose absorption and insulin release.
    British Journal of Nutrition. 2010;104(10):1415-1420. REVIEW
  3. Raben and Richelsen. Artificial sweeteners: a place in the field of functional foods? Focus on obesity and related metabolic disorders.
    Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care. 2012;15:597-604.
  4. De la Hunty at al. A review of the effectiveness of aspartame in helping with weight control.
    Nutrition Bulletin 31; 2006