British Journal of Nutrition

Research Article

Blood glucose and meal patterns in time-blinded males, after aspartame, carbohydrate, and fat consumption, in relation to sweetness perception

Kathleen J. Melansona1, Margriet S. Westerterp-Plantengaa1 c1, L. Arthur Campfielda2 and Wim H. M. Sarisa1

a1 Department of Human Biology Maastricht University, PO Box 616, 6200 MD Maastricht, The Netherlands

a2 Center for Human Nutrition, Department of Medicine, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver, CO 80262, USA


In a study of the impact of aspartame, fat, and carbohydrate on appetite, we monitored blood glucose continuously for 431 (se 16) min. Ten healthy males (19–31 years) participated in three time-blinded visits. As blood glucose was monitored, appetite ratings were scored at randomized times. On the first meal initiation, volunteers consumed one of three isovolumetric drinks (aspartame, 1 MJ simple carbohydrate, and 1 MJ high-fat; randomized order). High-fat and high-carbohydrate foods were available ad libitum subsequently. Blood glucose patterns following the carbohydrate drink (+1·78 (se 0·28) mmol/l in 38 (se 3) min) and high-fat drink (+0·83 (se 0·28) mmol/l in 49 (se 6) min) were predictive of the next intermeal interval (R 0·64 and R 0·97 respectively). Aspartame ingestion was followed by blood glucose declines (40 % of subjects), increases (20 %), or stability (40 %). These patterns were related to the volunteers' perception of sweetness of the drink (R 0·81, P = 0·014), and were predictive of subsequent intakes (R -0·71, P = 0·048). For all drinks combined, declines in blood glucose and meal initiation were significantly associated (χ2 16·8, P < 0·001), the duration of blood glucose responses and intermeal intervals correlated significantly (R 0·715, P = 0·0001), and sweetness perception correlated negatively with hunger suppression (R -0·471, P = 0·015). Effects of fat, carbohydrate, and aspartame on meal initiation, meal size, and intermeal interval relate to blood glucose patterns. Varied blood glucose responses after aspartame support the controversy over its effects, and may relate to sweetness perception.

(Received January 04 1999)

(Revised May 05 1999)

(Accepted June 11 1999)


c1 *Corresponding author: Dr Margriet Westerterp-Plantenga, fax +31 43 367 0976, email M.Westerterp@HB.UNIMAAS.NL