WHO sets guidelines on aspartame consumption

WHO sets guidelines on aspartame consumption
WHO sets guidelines on aspartame consumption (Photo courtesy Rama)

People have long heard that the artificial sweetener aspartame is bad for you, and can lead to major health problems. But is that really true? Experts on both ends of the spectrum are asked to weigh in regularly, and the answers vary vastly.

The companies that manufacture aspartame and any product that contains it say the sweetener is totally safe, and has been since it was approved by the FDA in 1981. It is made of aspartic acid and phenylalanine. Today it’s found in everything from sodas to cereals, ice cream and pastries and sweets. And, of course, in packets on restaurant tables for use in sweetening drinks. However, opponents of the sweetener’s reported safety say that methanol is also included as an ingredient – and it is found in substances like antifreeze and formaldehyde. They claim use of the sweetener can lead to confusion, diarrhea, fatigue, depression, memory loss and other physical problems.

The World Health Organization stepped in to proclaim that aspartame is safe in an amount not to exceed 40 milligrams per day per kilogram of body weight. That means a 150 pound person – which is the same as 68 kilograms – can safely consume more than 2,700 milligrams of the sweetener daily and still fall under WHO guidelines.

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