High School Student`s Winning Study:
Artificial Sweetener Hurts Performance
August 13, 1998
SUN VALLEY, Idaho, Aug. 12 /PRNewswire/ via NewsEdge Corporation --
High school student Susie Morris of Price, Utah, wowed an audience of sugar and corn sweetener growers, processors and refiners today when she reported on a three-year research study she conducted that demonstrated that a popular artificial sweetener hurt learning performance in elderly rats -- and sugar helped.
She said the study, which won first prize in its category in the National Science Fair, clearly demonstrated that when fed amounts of aspartame, the diet "destroyed the elderly rats' ability to learn." The rats were tested in a maze. Rats on a diet that was identical but did not contain aspartame mastered the maze successfully. The aspartame-fed rats never learned the maze, she said. The rats were 27 months old, which she said is the equivalent of a 79-year-old human.
Morris was recognized at one of the sessions of the 15th Annual International Sweetener Symposium being held here this week, where she presented her paper. She was a guest of the American Sugar Alliance. The Symposium is sponsored by the American Sugar Alliance, a coalition of
sugarbeet, sugarcane and corn sweetener growers, processors and refiners. A sister organization, The Sugar Association, presented the young student an award.
American Sugar Alliance Chairman Carolyn Cheney, in welcoming the student, thanked Allan
Lipman, CEO of The Amalgamated Sugar Company LLC, Ogden, Utah, who brought her to the attention of the group.
Morris, a rising high school junior, spent three years on her study. In the first phase of her study, she used a group of genetically identical rats. The control rats received rat chow and fresh water while the experimental group received 25 percent of its calories from a sucrose (sugar) and water solution. She said, "When taught to run a six-choice maze, the sucrose fed rats learned the maze 30 percent faster than the non-sugar fed rats."
She said that her next step was to determine how artificial sweeteners, specifically aspartame, affect learning behavior. She said, "The control rats again received rat chow and water, while the experimental rats were given an amount of aspartame equivalent in sweetness to the previous year's sucrose-fed group." This amount of aspartame, she said, was about 25 percent greater than the amount considered safe by the FDA. However, she said that since aspartame is "found in more than 5,000 food products and is consumed by over 250 million people worldwide per day, these results nonetheless have frightening implications."
Morris said that when tested, "The elderly control group mastered the maze by the 34th trial. The experimental group, however, never mastered the maze and showed no sign of learning whatsoever." Instead, she said the group fed the aspartame engaged in "repetition of a meaningless behavior."
SOURCE American Sugar Alliance
/CONTACT: Joseph Terrell of the American Sugar Alliance, Sun Valley, 208-622-2086, or Washington, 202-457-1438/ CO: American Sugar Alliance ST: District of Columbia IN: MTC AGR SU:
[Copyright 1998, PR Newswire]