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November 16, 1999

Meal Planning, Food and Diet

Question from Mountain View, California, USA:

I am an adult (50 years old) with type 2 diabetes (diagnosed a year ago). I have heard that aspartame is not recommended for use by type 2 diabetics. Can you please provide me with any information regarding this? I have looked everywhere for information about this.


There has been a great deal of alarmist information regarding aspartame circulated on the Internet in recent months. To my knowledge, it is without foundation. It falls in the same category as the folks who were sure the world was coming to an end on September 9: 9-9-99. Aspartame and other noncaloric sweeteners have been in extremely wide use for many years. In the amounts consumed by people — as opposed to the huge relative quantities fed to rodents in laboratories — they all appear to be safe. However, there are some individuals who have allergies or other types of symptoms of intolerance to these substances, much as some people are allergic to milk while most people drink it without any problem.

Because you have diabetes, you may find it convenient or helpful in managing your carbohydrate intake to use noncaloric sweeteners in a variety of ways. It can be helpful but it is not necessary. If you remain concerned about the use of noncaloric products, simply learn how to count the carbohydrate values of “normal” foods within your meal plan. A dietitian or other diabetes educator can help you with the specifics.