In business news this morning a headline just crossed the wire saying “Diet Pepsi dropping aspartame on customer concerns.”
Brian Rigby has been highlighting this risk for years now, so we asked him for his take.
Here is what he said:
“In regards to artificial sweeteners, I’ll say that my stance has softened considerably. Even back then, the main reason I was opposed to them was that they tend to “trick” people into eating more calories. At the time, I was more interested in the possible neurological component—the “false reward” creating more intense desire for sweets.
That hypothesis may still come to pass, but research doesn’t strongly back it. The more likely reason
is just that people who drink diet sodas are under the false impression that they’re “saving” calories and therefore can consume them in another form later. The reality is that nobody is given a “daily allotment of soda calories”, so those calories aren’t “saved”—they’re just extra calories.
It is a sort of trick, just not a neurological one; it’s more just a flawed method of thinking. If you look at a diet soda as just another zero-calorie drink, you probably won’t feel like you “earned” a bag of chips later by not having those dastardly soda calories earlier.
In general, all these artificial sweeteners, low-calorie sweeteners, etc. are used in such exceedingly small amounts that it’d be difficult if not impossible to reach the threshold of harm.”
About Diet Pepsi’s Move To Eliminate Aspartame:
“It’s smart from a marketing perspective, but it doesn’t really affect much
else (well, besides the taste and mouthfeel as they mentioned). It doesn’t
matter how safe or exhaustively studied an ingredient is, it’s often just
easier for companies to change ingredients if one gets negative publicity.
Think the Food Babe Effect—she’s managed to turn the tide against any
number of perfectly safe ingredients just by conjuring up negative
publicity (often through the appeal to “ick”), and most companies just fold
under that pressure because they care more about profits than scientific
truth (though that is possibly starting to change—not the profits part,
of course, but the willingness to be bullied into making changes).”
From The PEERtrainer Archives
Brian Rigby wrote this article several years ago and we recently asked
him for an update on the whole subject. Here is what he said: