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    You Ask, I Answer: Aspartame/Chewing Gum

    How much aspartame is in chewing gum, specifically Eclipse gum?

    Should one stick to a limited number per day or can we chew to our heart’s content?

    — “MC”
    Via the blog

    The average stick of gum contains 6 to 8 milligrams of aspartame (a 12 ounce can of Diet Coke, meanwhile, provides 180 milligrams.)

    According to current guidelines, humans can safely consume 50 milligrams of aspartame per kilogram of body weight per day.

    Based on recent studies, however, a growing body of scientists are calling for this number to be lowered to as little as 10 milligrams of aspartame per kilogram of body weight per day.

    Even with the more conservative 10 milligram guidelines, though, a 130 pound individual (59 kilograms) can still safely consume 590 milligrams of aspartame per day (the equivalent of three 12-ounce cans of Diet Coke.)

    That said, I don’t like the notion of “chewing to your heart’s content.”

    Sugarless gums — including Eclipse — contain other sweeteners beside aspartame.

    One of these — which appears well before aspartame on the ingredient list, meaning it is included in higher quantities — is sorbitol.

    Sorbitol is a sugar alcohol that, when consumed in large amounts, results in undesirable gastrointestinal effects, including diarrhea, acute intestinal cramps, and even unintended weight loss.

    To play it safe, I suggest capping your gum intake at 1 or 2 sticks/pieces a day.



    1. John Serrao said on February 6th, 2009


      You are usually dead on but Im not so sure about this one. Check out this chart, I think you might revise this post:

    2. Andy Bellatti said on February 6th, 2009

      Hi John,

      Can you copy the URL to your chart again? It doesn’t show up in your message.

      The figures I am talking about are well-established in terms of amounts of aspartame in different foods, but I am interested in seeing what you are referring to.

    3. John Serrao said on February 7th, 2009

      Well, there are two big pieces of data that suggest there is something seriously amiss with aspartame.

      The study I was linking to is here:

      I’ve exchanged emails with Dr. Walton – he’s not taking money from anyone. The result of this study really speaks for itself.

      Since that study, one of the largest independent laboratories in Italy issued a damning study, demanding a policy change (that goes yet unheard):

      Your blog is great by the way. I’ve been following it the last couple of months and you are really helping people with your advice. My site, nutritionwonderland.com is targeting much the same kind of audience. I’m investigating Truvia/PureVia at the moment. I’ve got some bigger ideas though – maybe we can collaborate and do some work together sometime.

    4. Andy Bellatti said on February 8th, 2009

      The second study you mention has been criticized for its methodology:


      As a believer in — and proponent of — real foods, my personal take on artificial sweeteners is that they have their place in a diet as occasional treats (ie: only having Diet Coke when eating sushi, as opposed to having two cans with every meal).

      I would not recommend anyone start drinking aspartame-sweetened beverages, but I also would not hit the panic button if someone treated themselves to two cans of Diet Coke a week.

    5. John Serrao said on February 9th, 2009

      For every study design problem, there is always another study to point at with aspartame. There is just too much money involved to get a clear read on reality here.

      I think there is a fine line on whether or not education or regulation is the better answer to a given food additive. It just seems like the education angle on aspartame is so poor among most people that they don’t even know it can be harmful. That’s why I’d opt for a regulatory warning or ban – but your point about infrequent use is also pretty valid.

    6. Andy Bellatti said on February 9th, 2009

      You raise some excellent points, John.

      I do think a small percentage of the population is sensitive to aspartame. Due to a lack of education on that topic, though, I think many of these people are not aware of the connection between their symptoms and the artificial sweetener.

      For now, though, a review of the literature demonstrates that while some animal trials have had results leaning towards the “increases the risk of certain cancers,” no human trials have come to that same conclusion.

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