Are diet soft drinks making people fat? I wouldn’t go as far to say that but in the past few years, doubts have been raised about whether diet soft drinks are all that helpful when it comes to weight loss. Many researchers think artificial sweeteners may actually cause people to eat more food and therefore increasing their weight. The diet soft drink market is now shrinking. Are consumers waking up to the false promise of diet soda? Tired of the taste and switching to other beverages like coffee, tea, water, energy drinks and sports drinks?
A new study finds that diet soft drinks aren’t helping with weight loss. The researchers examined beverage intake for almost 24,000 people. Diet soft drink consumption was much more common with obese and overweight people as for normal weight. Compared to obese people who drank regular sugar-sweetened soft drinks, the obese diet soft drink consumers ate more calories from food. In other words, drinking diet soda pop didn’t result in a calorie deficit that would help with weight loss. Remember weight loss comes down to calories coming in vs. calories going out. Total calorie intake was similar between diet and regular soft drink groups. The obese people who used diet drinks just made up with difference from more food.
This isn’t that surprising. Behavioral research shows that people reward themselves for choosing “healthy” diet foods by indulging in high calorie foods. So diet soft drinks aren’t such a great weight loss tool as people think. Some scientists believe the artificial sweeteners actually drive appetite, causing overeating. This study didn’t really answer that question either way. While the obese diet soft drink group did eat more calories from food, their total calorie intake wasn’t that different from the obese group that drank sugar-sweetened beverages. But it’s possible people in the diet beverage group were driven to overeat food, despite their good intentions, by some metabolic effect of the artificial sweeteners. The question remains unanswered.
Take Away Message:
Diet soft drinks don’t automatically lead to weight loss. If you want to get serious about losing weight, you need to cut total calories. If you think diet beverages and foods allow you to cheat with high calorie treats, your diet won’t be very successful.