Aspartame: Should Individuals with Type II Diabetes be Taking it?

Curr Diabetes Rev. 2018;14(4):350-362. doi: 10.2174/1573399813666170601093336.


Background: Individuals with Type II Diabetes (T2D) have to manage blood glucose levels to sustain health and longevity. Artificial sweeteners (including aspartame) are suggested sugar alternatives for these individuals. The safety of aspartame in particular, has long been the centre of debate. Although it is such a controversial product, many clinicians recommend its use to T2D patients, during a controlled diet and as part of an intervention strategy. Aspartame is 200 times sweeter than sugar and has a negligible effect on blood glucose levels, and it is suggested for use so that T2D can control carbohydrate intake and blood glucose levels. However, research suggests that aspartame intake may lead to an increased risk of weight gain rather than weight loss, and cause impaired blood glucose tolerance in T2D.

Objective: This review consolidates knowledge gained from studies that link aspartame consumption to the various mechanisms associated with T2D.

Method: We review literature that provides evidence that raise concerns that aspartame may exacerbate T2D and add to the global burden of disease.

Result: Aspartame may act as a chemical stressor by increasing cortisol levels, and may induce systemic oxidative stress by producing excess free radicals, and it may also alter gut microbial activity and interfere with the N-methyl D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor, resulting in insulin deficiency or resistance.

Conclusion: Aspartame and its metabolites are safe for T2D is still debatable due to a lack of consistent data. More research is required that provides evidence and raise concerns that aspartame may exacerbate prevalence of pathological physiology in the already stressed physiology of T2D.

Keywords: Aspartame; glucose; insulin; type II diabetes; weight gain; weight loss..

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Aspartame / adverse effects
  • Aspartame / therapeutic use*
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Blood Glucose / drug effects*
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Clinical Decision-Making
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / diagnosis
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / drug therapy*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / physiopathology
  • Energy Intake
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / blood
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects
  • Patient Selection
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Sweetening Agents / adverse effects
  • Sweetening Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Biomarkers
  • Blood Glucose
  • Sweetening Agents
  • Hydrocortisone
  • Aspartame