Florida State University research links common sweetener aspartame with anxiety

Substance produced "anxiety-like behavior in mice."
Containers of Diet Coke

Scientists in Florida say they have established a link between the common artificial sweetener aspartame and anxiety-like behavior in mice test subjects. 

A press release out of Florida State University revealed that the researchers "provid[ed] mice with drinking water containing aspartame at approximately 15% of the FDA-approved maximum daily human intake."

"The dosage, equivalent to six to eight 8-ounce cans of diet soda a day for humans, continued for 12 weeks in a study spanning four years," the university said. 

The university said "anxiety-like behavior" was observed in the test mice "through a variety of maze tests across multiple generations descending from the aspartame-exposed males."

“It was such a robust anxiety-like trait that I don’t think any of us were anticipating we would see,” doctoral candidate Sara Jones said in the release. “It was completely unexpected. Usually you see subtle changes.” 

Aspartame is widely used in a variety of food products, most notably diet coke. 

The press release noted that, when consumed, aspartame "becomes aspartic acid, phenylalanine and methanol, all of which can have potent effects on the central nervous system."