Many low-calorie, sugar-free foods and beverages such as gum, breath mints, diet sodas, yogurts, cereal, powdered drink mixes, nutritional bars, pudding and meal replacements contain aspartame. Aspartame is an artificial sweetener used as a substitute for sugar and is virtually non-caloric.
Aspartame has a sugar-like taste and is 180 to 220 times sweeter than sucrose. James M. Schlatter, a chemist working for G.D. Searle & Company, discovered aspartame in 1965. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has affirmed the safety of aspartame 26 times over the past 23 years, and the artificial sweetener has been approved for use and consumption in more than 100 countries. As of 2015, more than 100 million people around the world consume aspartame on a regular basis, and the sweetener can be found in more than 6,000 products.
Many rumors claiming that aspartame causes a number of serious health problems, including cancer, have continued to circulate on the Internet. However, the American Cancer Society reports that extensive studies have been done on both humans and animals, and experts have yet to conclude that any health problems are consistently linked with aspartame consumption. The most common symptom reported by consumers of this artificial sweetener is headaches.