For those of you who religiously drink your Pepsi Max every day at lunch, thinking that you’re helping to maintain your figure or lose weight, scientists have uncovered some bad news. While it is possible to use diet soda as a dieting aid, new evidence proves that drinking diet sodas regularly can contribute to weight gain.
Data presented recently at the American Diabetes Association’s (ADA) Scientific Sessions suggest that diet drinks may actually contribute to weight gain, and that the artificial sweeteners in them could potentially contribute towards Type 2 diabetes. In one study, researchers from the School of Medicine at The University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio gathered 474 subjects and measured them at the start of the experiment and at three intervals thereafter, to determine what the effects of diet soda were on weight gain or loss.
What makes the study interesting is that it was done over a period of just under 10 years, which means it’s the longest study to date of the effects of diet sodas. What they found was that those who had drunk diet sodas regularly over the period of the experiment showed 70% greater waistline increases on average than those who did not.
What’s more is that those who said they drank two or more diet sodas a day had waistline growth 500% greater than those who did not drink it. Researchers say this provides “conclusive evidence that diet soda contributes dramatically to weight gain”.
Still No Clear Link
The data didn’t suggest exactly why there was this link, but causality is implied by the rigorous methods of the researchers. The prevailing theory is that our brains are wired to expect loads of calories when we taste something sweet. When we don’t get those calories, it throws our brain out of kilter, making us feel hungrier.
Studies on animals have shown that artificial sweeteners can lead to drastic weight gain and over-eating.
Clear Risk of Diabetes
In another, separate experiment, researchers gave 40 mice their regular food, but with added corn oil to increase the fat content. For half of the mice they added aspartame (the most common non-nutritive sweetener) to the food. After only three months the mice who had been eating sweetened, fatty food showed elevated fasting glucose levels, an early indicator of a type 2 Diabetes risk.
Hopefully this will make you think twice before reaching for a can of soda. The overall health effects are not worth this tasty treat. At least not on a regular basis.