Sweetener Aspartame Effective In Weight Control

Obesity is a major cause of treatable illness and represents a major cost to society.

The treatment of obesity includes diet modification, exercise, with or without medications for appetite suppression.

Some of these medications have potential side effects and can be costly.

Researchers at Harvard Medical School studied the effects of the high-intensity, low-energy sweetener aspartame on long-term weight control maintenance.

George L. Blackburn, M.D. and colleagues monitored the effects of aspartame-sweetened foods and beverages as part of a weight-control program involving one hundred sixty-three obese women. Their results, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (1997;65:409-18), showed that a dietary program designed with aspartame and combined with exercise yielded significantly better results than without this sweetener. Accordingly, women who consumed aspartame-sweetened foods lost significantly more weight overall and regained significantly less weight during maintenance and follow-up than did those women who were assigned to abstain from aspartame for the study.

Further, the women using the aspartame-diet program encountered no significant adverse health effects during the 3-year study.

These results suggest that aspartame can be incorporated into the weight-control diet with effectiveness as well as safety.

The authors of the study point out that the participants in this study were "highly motivated, well-educated, middle-to- upper class, white women." Therefore, results of the study may not be apply to all patient groups.

This study does present a safe and cost-effective alternative to medications in the long-term management of obesity.

For more about weight control, please visit the Obesity and Weight Loss Center.

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