Opinion: Going bonkers

POSTED: 11/22/11 8:17 AM

Many people are going bonkers about artificial sweeteners. Aspartame is one of these products. Some people swear by artificial sweeteners,. Others associate them with health problems.
A professor in Wageningen, Kees de Graaf, says that the aspartame-fear is weird, because our body breaks it down in two amino acids that are also found in other foodstuff. In other words, the prof says, there is nothing wrong with aspartame.
The question many people will ask these days, after it became public that two professors lost their jobs because they published forged research data, if this particular professor has clean hands.
Its rather awful to have to put it this way, but there is no denying that the market for artificial sweeteners is huge. In the United States alone it is worth $200 million. There are almost 4,000 different artificial sweeteners on the market, so the pressure of the industry to generate good news about a key component like aspartame is huge.
And then, maybe, the professor is right and there is nothing wrong with aspartame, and he is not on the take. Who knows? As long as we don’t stuff us with it day in day out, the effects will probably be limited. In the meantime, the aspartame market is coming under pressure now that the European Union has approved a new sweetener called stevia – based on the subtropical steviaplant.
Professor de Graaf expects stevia to appeal to consumers, because it is plant based.
We stick to real sugar, just to stay on the safe side.

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