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Does NutraSweet (aspartame) help with weight loss and weight maintenance?
Thursday, June 23, 2005 9:27 am Email this article
Yes, NutraSweet (aspartame) was found to increase weight loss and be surprisingly effective for weight maintenance according to a recent study. Three-Part Study with 163 obese women
The study, which involved 163 obese women, had three parts: a four month weight loss period, a 1-year weight maintenance period, and a follow up 3-years after weight loss.
The women were assigned to either consume or abstain from NutraSweet (aspartame)-sweetened foods and beverages during the weight loss period.
Average weight loss 22 lbs or 10%
Weight loss in both groups during this four months averaged 10 percent of body weight or approximately 22 pounds.
One-year weight loss: NutraSweet vs no NutraSweet: 16 lbs vs 10 lbs
One year after losing weight, women in the NutraSweet (aspartame) group maintained a weight loss of 16.1 pounds versus 9.7 pounds for those in the group that did not consume NutraSweet.
Three-year weight loss: NutraSweet vs no NutraSweet: 10 lbs vs 1 lbs
This also held true three years later. Women who consumed NutraSweet (aspartame) maintained a weight loss of 9.9 pounds versus 0.9 pounds for those in the group that did not consume NutraSweet.
Results similar to long-term use of diet pills
One interesting observation that the authors made was that these results are similar to those obtained with the long-term use of diet pills (page 415).
Those who consumed the most NutraSweet (aspartame) lost the most weight
Another interesting finding was that those who consumed the most NutraSweet (aspartame) during the 4 month weight loss period lost the most weight.
Increasing NutraSweet (aspartame) consumption increases weight loss: 14 lbs vs 21 lbs vs 24 lbs
Dividing NutraSweet (aspartame) consumption into thirds, weight loss was 14.3 pounds for the one-third of people consuming the least versus 21.3 pounds for the middle third compared to 24 pounds for the one-third of women consuming the most.
The average amount of NutraSweet (aspartame) consumed each day when dividing the group into thirds was
- 75 mg per day or 2 packets of Equal): 14.3 lbs weight loss
- 243 mg per day or 6.6 packets of Equal): 21.3 lbs weight loss
- 537 mg per day or 14.6 packets of Equal) 24
NutraSweet (aspartame) not associated with weight gain
“Data from well-designed clinical trials have shown that NutraSweet (aspartame) is not associated with weight gain, and when used as part of a balanced deficit diet, can facilitate weight loss,” Lavin et al (1994) concluded.
One NutraSweet (aspartame) sweetened soda per day reduces calorie intake
A 1990 study (Tordoff et al, 1990) found that normal-weight men and women ate fewer calories over a 3-week period when they drank one NutraSweet (aspartame)-sweetened soda per day compared to no soda.
Men lost weight, women did not
The men consuming NutraSweet (aspartame) lost weight, but the women did not.
NutraSweet (aspartame) without diet does not cause weight loss
In contrast, another recent study (Lavin et al, 1997) suggests that NutraSweet (aspartame) may not spontaneously cause weight loss.
Women consumed 380-480 more calories after drinking four NutraSweet (aspartame) sodas
Normal-weight college-aged women consumed 382-478 more calories the day after drinking four NutraSweet (aspartame)-sweetened lemonades compared to days following sucrose-sweetened lemonade or carbonated water.
Is NutraSweet (aspartame) safe?
I’m not convinced about the long-term safety of NutraSweet (aspartame).
A recent paper (Olney et al, 1996) suggested that NutraSweet (aspartame) may increase brain tumors.
However, several experts have refuted their conclusion.
These expert opinions are posted on the NutraSweet web site (http://www.nutrasweet.com).
This information is also available by calling the NutraSweet Company at (800) 321-7254.
However, my guess is that these experts were paid for their opinions by the NutraSweet Company, which can influence what a person says or what evidence they look for.
Blackburn G, Kanders BS, Lavin P, Keller S, Whatley J. The effect of aspartame as part of a multidisciplinary weight-control program on short- and long-term control of body weight. Am J Clin Nutr. 1997 Feb, 65(2):409-18.
AUTHOR’S CONTACT INFORMATION
Center for the Study of Nutrition Medicine
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Harvard Medical School
Boston, MA, USA
Lavin JH, French SJ, Read NW. The effect of sucrose and aspartame sweetened drinks on energy intake, hunger and food choice of female, moderately restrained eaters. International Journal of Obesity, Jan 1997, 21(1):37-42.
Tordoff MG, Alleva AM. Effect of drinking soda sweetened with aspartame or high-fructose corn syrup on food intake and body weight. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1990 Jun, 51(6):963-9.
Olney JW, Farber NB, Spitznagel E, Robins LN. Increasing brain tumor rates: is there a link to aspartame? Journal of Neuropathology and Experimental Neurology, 1996 Nov, 55(11):1115-23.
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