A meta-analysis is a kind of super-charged scientific study that crunches the data from many published papers in one big group to get a result that’s more airtight than any one paper on its own. That’s what this study did: the researchers found nearly 12,000 papers that focused on artificial sweeteners like aspartame, sucralose, and stevia, and selected a handful that met their criteria. Seven were randomized controlled trials, the kind of experiments that break volunteers into groups: one group gets the test substance, the other group gets a control substance. Thirty were prospective cohort studies, a less rigorous but still-useful kind of study in which researchers collect data from a group of people over a period of time.
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