Diet Coke rises to defense of artificial sweeteners

Coca-Cola has launched an ad campaign to quell consumer concerns about the safety of the artificial sweetener aspartame that's used in its Diet Coke brand.

Coca-Cola has launched an ad campaign to quell consumer concerns about the safety of the artificial sweetener aspartame that's used in its Diet Coke brand.

The effort, which debuted in Coca-Cola's hometown of Atlanta and will eventually run nationwide, states that “the safety of aspartame is supported by more than 200 studies over the last 40 years."

As part of Coke's Coming Together initiative that kicked off in January to combat obesity in the US, the ad campaign also highlights low-calorie and no-calorie beverages as safer alternatives to sugary drinks. Consumers can also read a document called “Skinny on Aspartame,” which is posted on the Beverage Institute for Health & Wellness, an online resource created by Coca-Cola that supports nutrition research.

While various health organizations, such as the Food and Drug Administration, the American Cancer Society, and the American Heart Association, have said aspartame is safe in food when used in moderation, some health groups still disagree.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest states that three independent studies show that aspartame causes cancer. Some other concerns about consuming aspartame are that it causes headaches, dizziness, gastrointestinal symptoms, and increased cravings for sweet items.

Despite the controversial buzz about this topic, and even though I recently stopped using any artificial sweeteners, I think Coca-Cola's campaign is strategic, especially putting information on the Beverage Institute for Health & Wellness site.

Personally, I don't think anyone should put a label on whether or not aspartame is safe, since it's still such a passionately debated issue. But aside from that, Diet Coke's effort to join the war on obesity in America is smart. By promoting non-sugary beverages, the company could potentially lower rates of heart disease, diabetes, and other obesity-related illnesses, and that's a mission that many consumers can quickly get behind. 

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