Aspartame and its potential link to cancer has been in the news recently. This additive is used to make food and drinks taste sweet without adding a lot of extra calories. As you decide what’s best for you and your family, consider these points.
1) ) Aspartame has been used as a food additive since the 1980s. It is one of the most studied food additives.
2) The recent classification of aspartame as a “possible carcinogen” doesn’t mean that it causes cancer in humans. Much more research is needed in order to make that determination.
3) The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) disagrees with this recent classification and maintains that there are no safety concerns when aspartame is used correctly. The FDA sets acceptable daily limits for aspartame based on body weight. For example, a 40-pound child would need to drink four, 12-ounce cans of diet soda every day to reach this limit.
Some consumers buy products sweetened with aspartame and other non-nutritive sweeteners because they enjoy the flavor but don’t want the extra calories. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics points out that non-nutritive sweeteners, such as aspartame may cause children to prefer foods that are sweeter. This could in turn affect appetite, weight gain, and health throughout life. According to another expert panel, beverages with these types of sweeteners should be avoided among children ages 5 and younger.
If you have concerns about the safety of aspartame, it’s easy to avoid. When it’s added to food and drinks, it must be included on the product’s ingredients list.
Fruit is a great alternative to sweetened foods and drinks. Fruit is generally less costly and better quality when it’s purchased in season. During the summer months, think about adding fresh melons, berries, and stone fruit to your shopping list. Frozen, dried and canned fruit are also healthy choices and can be enjoyed year-round. Learn more about fruit and how much your kids need each day here.