After seeing this reddit post, and reading this article are the claims they made true?

Claim enter image description here


[Today I learnt] 100% of the studies (n=74) concluding aspartame to be safe for consumption are funded by the Nutrasweet® industry, while 92% (n=92) of the stuidies claiming the compound to have the potential for adverse effects (e.g. head aches, brain tumors, seizures and mood disorders) are independently funded. (lightenyourtoxicload.com)
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    The phrasing seems awful, "100% of the studies concluding aspartame to be safe for consumption are funded by the Nutrasweet® industry" =/= "of the studies funded by Nutrasweet® industry 100% concluded aspartame to be safe"
    – Murphy
    Jul 29, 2015 at 14:37
  • @Murphy if you look at the study it claims that the only studies to ever show aspartame to be safe are funded by nutrasweet, the other studies are all either proving or disproving a specific aspect of aspartame, eg. headaches, cancer ect.
    – Himarm
    Jul 29, 2015 at 15:10
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    so the 8% of the independently funded studies were showing what then?
    – Murphy
    Jul 29, 2015 at 15:12
  • @Murphy that aspartame does not cause a specific adverse effect, like headaches. disproving 1 specific supposed side effect =/= safe.
    – Himarm
    Jul 29, 2015 at 15:13
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    you seem to be of the belief that there's a difference. Do you believe that every one of the industry funded studies was looking for all possible health effects? I'm not following your reasoning.
    – Murphy
    Jul 29, 2015 at 15:15

2 Answers 2


The ultimate source of your Reddit quote (lightenyourtoxicload.com), hosts a paper titled Survey Of Aspartame Studies: Correlation Of Outcome And Funding Sources that backs up that quote:

Studies of aspartame in the peer reviewed medical literature were surveyed for funding source and study outcome. Of the 166 studies felt to have relevance for questions of human safety, 74 had Nutrasweet® industry related funding and 92 were independently funded. One hundred percent of the industry funded research attested to aspartame's safety, whereas 92% of the independently funded research identified a problem. A bibliography supplied by the Nutrasweet® Company included many studies of questionable validity and relevance, with multiple instances of the same study being cited up to 6 times. Questions are raised both about aspartame's safety and the broader issue of the appropriateness of industry sponsorship of medical research.

The paper doesn't detail what those problems are and whether they are mild or severe, but some of the papers that reported problems have titles that suggest serious side adverse reactions:

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    I think it needs to be pointed out that the fact that an industry funds a study on a product does not in any way imply that the study is fallacious or that data has been doctored, which is what the claim is obviously assuming. That is a big accusation that would need to be proven. Actually, if the industry wanted to fake data they would probably avoid disclosing any affiliation to the study...
    – nico
    Jul 29, 2015 at 8:13
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    Also, the great majority of the studies that Dr. Walton quotes are either irrelevant, not peer-reviewed, or misinterpreted. See docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/… (from whatdoesthesciencesay.wordpress.com/category/email-hoaxes )
    – nico
    Jul 29, 2015 at 9:03
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    @nico that's not strictly true. There's good solid evidence that across the board industry funded trials are more likely to support the intervention they're testing implying shenanigans. blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/… It can be as simple as the company using contracts to bury the results or researchers knowing that the company won't fund more trials from them if they return too many negative results. Yes it is a common example of scientific misconduct.
    – Murphy
    Jul 29, 2015 at 14:21
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    not be taken into account? no, you wouldn't want to ignore it entirely but if there's a strong correlation between funding source and result then it's essential that you apply a corresponding lower weighting to the studies funded by industry.
    – Murphy
    Jul 29, 2015 at 15:19
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    @nico: The fact that the industry funded the study may "not in any way imply that the study is fallacious or that data has been doctored," but it absolutely does imply that a conflict of interest exists, and therefore any favorable claims made by such a study should be regarded as highly suspect by default. Jul 30, 2015 at 17:32

Of course they did, it is up to them to prove to safety authorities that a product is safe for consumption. And who else could pay? do you expect governments to pay for every product attemptedly brought to market.
This is true for all drugs and artificial foods, the 'sponsor' who seeks to profit from the product must pay to show it is safe for them to do so

That said, Aspartame is now the most researched food in history with many independent studies and no reliable evidence disputing its safety at or even remotely near to levels used in food. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aspartame

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