A Decade of Perfidy — Beverage Additives

“SSBs” is a convenient nickname for sugar-sweetened beverages, but an inaccurate one, because artificially-sweetened beverages are just as awful in their own way. The resistance movement probably wastes a considerable amount of energy debating which is worse. It can all devastate lives, and it’s all crap. Researchers who are not on the Big Soda payroll have poked their investigative noses into plenty of questions whose answers stink.

Take this headline for example: “Artificially Sweetened Drinks (Aspartame, etc.) Found To Triple Your Risk of Stroke & Dementia.” A research team from Boston University published its official report (whose slightly longer title also included sugar) in the journal Stroke. Journalist Arjun Walia interpreted it for the lay reader as “a one of a kind study examining whether artificially sweetened beverage consumption is associated with risks of stroke or dementia.” The answer they came up with is, yes.

Artificial sweeteners had previously been spotlighted as active in causing diabetes and cancer, and now a decade-long study of 3,000 adults has found that “drinking diet soda regularly nearly triples your risk of developing stroke or dementia.” Actually, it didn’t come as that much of a surprise. The increased stroke risk was known from both American and Japanese studies as far back as 2012. One of the same authors was involved in research based on 4,000 subjects, published the same year in Alzheimer’s & Dementia:

The focus here was on people who consumed more than two sugary drinks per day of any type, and more than three per week of soda.

Among the “high intake” group, researchers discovered several signs of accelerated brain aging that all correlated with early-stage Alzheimer’s disease. They also found that at least one diet soda per day was associated with smaller brain volume.

Can soft drinks dosed with artificial sweetener actually shrink human brains? Do we really want to take this experiment any further, especially with our kids as laboratory animals? Apparently, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) refused to approve aspartame for 20 years, and a massive amount of political finagling in the early 1980s finally made it legal.

But no matter how viciously these battles are fought something else always comes along to capture the attention of the public.

The venerable nutrition expert Marion Nestle, back in 2014, was alerted by one of her readers to the existence of a product from Senomyx Inc. that had been christened Sweetmyx. She learned from the Bloomberg business news empire that the stuff was “generally recognized as safe.” This had been determined by an organization called the Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association, which is kind of like letting a corrupt police department investigate itself for misconduct.

The FDA thought so too, and published a stern statement. Senomyx Inc. was trying to fool the public into thinking that the FDA itself had made the “Generally Recognized As Safe” determination, and while there is no law against anybody else using that phrase, implying that the FDA used it is definitely frowned upon.

PepsiCo didn’t care. They were so jazzed about Sweetmyx, they bought exclusive rights to use it in their soda pop. What happened next? Stay tuned.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Artificially Sweetened Drinks (Aspartame, etc.) Found To Triple Your Risk of Stroke & Dementia,” Collective-Evolution.com, 09/05/17
Source: “No, FDA Has Not Approved Sweetmyx; Another Reason To Fix GRAS Regs,” FoodSafetyNews.com, 03/17/14
Image by Jimelovski Platano Macho/Flickr

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OVERWEIGHT: What Kids Say explores the obesity problem from the often-overlooked perspective of children struggling with being overweight.

About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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