Wow, shock, gasp, news!
Sorry for the sarcasm but feeding rats aspartame is actually a patented method of making the critturs fat for obesity research.
It screws up the hunger-regulating part of the brain, though aspartame is much worse than sacharin or whatever it's called, as it actually damages that part.
I was actually thinking of starting a thread on this topic but decided against it as I can't be bothered to dig up all the facts and debate about it - but would certainly suggest you do some research on this yourself. There's a lot of controversy over aspartame especially (think L-glutamine and asparic acid, which by the way is a mainstay of many protein shakes).
Yes, you'll find plenty of sites stating it is safer than a safer thing inside a house. I'll just give a few points to ponder on:
Coca cola and other drink makers tried to have the stuff banned as their research suggested it was dangerous. Can we say "brain damage"?
At least one, I think two, of the FDA's own researchers wrote public letters of protest when the FDA decided it was safe after all - this being just after a certain Donald Rumsfied became CEO of the company that makes it.
You'll hear it is the "most tested" or "most studied" of all foodstuffs. Sure. Now consider that the research was so sloppy and in places outright fake that for the first time in the FDA's history they were going to bring criminal charges - until the company hired the top prosecutor as a well-paid lobbyist. The case collapsed as it ran out of time while finding a replacement.
The artificial sweetener is a tiny little tab - but the industry is worth over a billion bucks a year. That kind of money easily pays for favorable "science".
If you think the FDA wouldn't foist crap sweeteners on you to protect business, ask yourself why you have fructose corn syrup, the most fattening sugar I know of, in virtually everything? Because of anti-trade tarffs against real but foreign sugar.
Also ask yourself why stevia is so hard to find, and why you may not have even heard of it? It's a natural plant 300 times sweeter than sugar, zero calories. It scared the crap out of the sugar industry and is banned. Why? Because it hasn't been tested and proven safe. Forget that the Japanese and some other Asian nations have been scoffing it for decades, forget that in South America it's been consumed since historic records began, it's not proven safe, see?
So yeah, aspartame is "safe" and "heavily tested" and maybe you even believe that. Me, not so much.
Final point, before someone waves a "look, this study sez it's safer than safe!" post at me. Guess what percentage of complaints to the FDA involve aspartame, of all the things people could complain about?
Think more like 70%.
But it's safe, so ignore me, I'm someone on the internets.