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Is Diet Soda More Fattening than Regular Soda?

Posted by | October 12, 2011 | Featured | 7 Comments

Despite common wisdom, frequent consumption of diet soda (and artificial sweeteners) often leads to weight gain.

…. Did I read that right?

YES! The average diet soda drinker gains more weight than the average regular soda drinker. How can this be? The short answer: you can’t trick your body.

When we taste something sweet, evolution has finely tuned our bodies to expect a payoff: calories. If your body doesn’t get any calories after consuming something sweet like diet soda, it actually slows down your metabolism to try to make the most of the real calories you do consume. Additionally, after you drink diet soda, your befuddled body and brain starts to crave carbs, so don’t be surprised if you suddenly find yourself wrist-deep in a bag of Fritos.

A study at the University of Texas Health Science Center (go horns!), found that consumption of diet soda was correlated with weight gain, likely because undelivered expected calories from diet soda may stimulate the appetite. Of the 622 study participants who were of normal weight at the beginning of the study, about a third became overweight or obese.

For regular soft-drink drinkers, the risk of becoming overweight or obese was:

  • 26% for up to 1/2 can each day
  • 30.4% for 1/2 to one can each day
  • 32.8% for 1 to 2 cans each day
  • 47.2% for more than 2 cans each day.

For diet soft-drink drinkers, the risk of becoming overweight or obese was:

  • 36.5% for up to 1/2 can each day
  • 37.5% for 1/2 to one can each day
  • 54.5% for 1 to 2 cans each day
  • 57.1% for more than 2 cans each day.
  • For each can of diet soft drink consumed each day, a person’s risk of obesity went up 41%.

Isn’t that insane? Just one can of diet soda a day indicated a 41% increase in a person’s risk of obesity! Now correlation does not imply causation, but the findings are strong enough to make me run away from diet soda like a freaking ninja, how about you?

Other researchers have found that diet soda drinkers are less likely to consume healthy foods, and that drinking diet soda with artificial sweeteners increases cravings for sugar flavored sweets. Animal studies suggest that the ingestion of artificial sweeteners found in many diet sodas cause a faulty insulin response and animals encountered increased caloric intake, increased body weight, and increased fatness (scientifically known as “adiposity”). So you heard it from me, if you want to get fat, keep on drinking diet soda.

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