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Coke aspartame: Coca-Cola defends aspartame in Coke ad, despite CDC reports

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Coke aspartame: Coca-Cola is intending to defend its use of the artificial sweetener aspartame in Coke in an ad that is planned to begin running on Wednesday. In defense of aspartame in Coke, Coca-Cola reminds people that using artificial sweeteners instead of sugar can help people in managing their weight. “The print ad is set to run in USA Today in the Atlanta area, followed by the Atlanta Journal Constitution on Thursday and the Chicago Tribune next week,” reported ABC News on Aug. 13, 2013.

Aspartame, which is more commonly known under the NutraSweet brand name, has been the subject of several health concerns stating that artificial sweeteners might have long-term effects including effects on one’s brain functions.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), aspartame was approved for use in soft drinks like Coke in July of 1983. By February of 1984, “the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requested CDC's assistance in evaluating consumer complaints that FDA had received about consumption of aspartame-containing products. The request followed an increase in aspartame-related complaints in the latter half of 1983.”

“Many complainants reported a variety of symptoms involving several organ systems. Overall, 346 (67%) complainants reported neurological/behavioral symptoms, including headaches, dizziness, and mood alterations. One hundred twenty-four (24%) reported experiencing gastrointestinal symptoms, and 76 (15%) reported allergic type and/or dermatologic symptoms. Thirty-two women (6% of case reports) reported alterations in their usual menstrual patterns.”

With the decline of sales of diet soda, Coca-Cola is now taking a stand against health critics reaffirming consumers that there is no evidence of adverse health effects of artificial sweeteners. In contrast, Coca-Cola claims that the use of aspartame in Coke and other diet soft drinks does not only help people to manage their weight but that it also helps to reduce one’s calorie intake.

"’Coke is trying to get out front and proactively defend these diet sweeteners,’ said John Sicher, editor of Beverage Digest, which tracks the industry.”

According to Beverage Digest, the sales of diet sodas like Diet Coke or Diet Pepsi declined faster than regular sodas in the United States. Last year, the sales of Coke went down 1 percent and the sales of Diet Coke went down 3 percent. Similarly, Pepsi fell 3.4 percent while Diet Pepsi fell almost double that rate, 6.2 percent.

In an attempt to stop the declining sales of diet sodas, Coca-Cola Co. had already launched a campaign in January in which Coca-Cola expressed its “commitment to fighting obesity and pointed to the many diet options it offers.”

In its new Coke aspartame ad, Coca-Cola aims to “reassure people that those lower-calorie drinks aren't harmful.”

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