NNNS: Behavior Changes, Cognitive Function and Moods (2006)
Do non-nutritive sweeteners (saccharin, aspartame, acesulfame-K, sucralose, neotame) affect behavior, cognitive function, or moods?
Several studies report that in healthy adults and children, as well as those considered to have “sugar sensitivity” or behavioral disorders, intake levels of aspartame ranging from 10 – 60 mg/kg body weight (acceptable intake levels equal 50 mg/kg body weight) for time periods of 1 day to 12 weeks have not been shown to have any significant effect on behavior, cognitive function or mood. Further studies are needed using larger intakes of non-nutritive sweeteners over longer time periods.
- Grade I means there is Good/Strong evidence supporting the statement;
- Grade II is Fair;
- Grade III is Limited/Weak;
- Grade IV is Expert Opinion Only;
- Grade V is Not Assignable.
- High (A) means we are very confident that the true effect lies close to that of the estimate of the effect;
- Moderate (B) means we are moderately confident in the effect estimate;
- Low (C) means our confidence in the effect estimate is limited;
- Very Low (D) means we have very little confidence in the effect estimate.
- Ungraded means a grade is not assignable.
Evidence Summary: Do non-nutritive sweeteners (saccharin, aspartame, acesulfame-K, sucralose, neotame) affect behavior, cognitive function, or moods?
- Quality Rating Summary
For a summary of the Quality Rating results, click here.
- Butchko HH, Stargel WW, Comer CP, Mayhew DA, Benninger C, Blackburn GL, de Sonneville LM, Geha RS, Hertelendy Z, Koestner A, Leon AS, Liepa GU, McMartin KE, Mendenhall CL, Munro IC, Novotny EJ, Renwick AG, Schiffman SS, Schomer DL, Shaywitz BA, Spiers PA, Tephly TR, Thomas JA, Trefz FK. Aspartame: review of safety. Evaluation of aspartame and behavior, cognitive function and mood. Regul Toxicol Pharmacol 2002;35(2 Pt 2): S56-61.
- Kruesi MJ, Rapoport JL, Cummings EM, Berg CJ, Ismond DR, Flament M, Yarrow M, Zahn-Waxler C. Effects of sugar and aspartame on aggression and activity in children. Am J Psychiatry. 1987 Nov; 144 (11): 1,487-1,490.
- Lapierre KA, Greenblatt DJ, Goddard JE, Harmatz JS, Shader RI. The neuropsychiatric effects of aspartame in normal volunteers. J Clin Pharmacol. 1990; 30 (5): 454-460.
- Pivonka EEA, Grunewald KK. Aspartame- or sugar-sweetened beverages: effects on mood in young women. J Am Diet Assoc. 1990; 90: 250-254.
- Saravis S, Schachar R, Zlotkin S, Leiter LA, Anderson GH. Aspartame: effects on learning, behavior and mood. Pediatrics. 1990; 86 (1): 75-83.
- Shaywitz BA, Sullivan CM, Anderson GM, Gillespie SM, Sullivan B, Shaywitz SE. Aspartame, behavior, and cognitive function in children with attention deficit disorder. Pediatrics. 1994; 93: 70-75.
- Spiers PA et al, Aspartame: neuropsychologic and neurophysiologic evaluation of acute and chronic effects. Am J Clin Nutr. 1998 Sep; 68 (3): 531-537.
- Stokes AF, Belger A, Banich MT, Taylor H. Effects of acute aspartame and acute alcohol ingestion upon the cognitive performance of pilots. Aviat Space Environ Med. 1991; 62: 648-653.
- Trefz F, de Sonneville L, Matthis P, Benninger C, Lanz-Englert B, Bickel H. Neuropsychological and biochemical investigations in heterozygotes for phenylketonuria during ingestion of high dose aspartame (a sweetener containing phenylalanine). Hum Genet. 1994; 93 (4): 369-374.
- Wolraich ML, Lindgren SD, Stumbo PJ, Stegink LD, Appelbaum MI, Kiritsy MC. Effects of diets high in sucrose or aspartame on the behavior and cognitive performance of children. New England Journal of Medicine, 1994; 330: 301-307.