Diet Soda and Weight Gain? In the News

Drinking diet soda may not lead to a trim waist if two new studies making the news are confirmed. That would take a lot more research. The studies were presented at the American Diabetes Association meeting this week. You can read the abstracts, below.

One study looked at the diet soda habits among 500 people ages 65 to 74. After tracking participants for an average of 3.6 years, the researchers found that people who drank more than two servings of diet soda per day had a waist circumference five times greater than those who drank no diet soda.

The second study was an animal study. This study looked at the effect of the artificial sweetener aspartame to insulin.

The mice tested, all prone to diabetes, were divided into two groups. One group was fed aspartame along with its food. After three months, the aspartame-eating mice had higher blood sugar levels and lower insulin levels than the non-aspartame eating mice. The authors write that this was “consistent with early declines in pancreatic beta-cell function,” suggesting it increases the risk of diabetes. (In this study, the aspartame-eating mice did have lower body weight.)

Neither study is published yet and there is currently conflicting data on the effects of diet soda consumption and weight.

An earlier question that came to AICR – “Do Sweeteners Help or Hurt Weight Control?” helps explain more of the research on the topic.

While the diet soda research continues, the research is clearer on the sugary soda side. After a massive review of the evidence, AICR’s expert report concluded that sugar-sweetened beverages probably lead to weight gain and overweight. And overweight and obesity increases the risk of seven difference cancers, including post-menopausal breast and colorectal.

If you want to cut out or cut down how many sugar-sweetened beverages or diet sodas you drink, there are plenty of alternatives. Water is the obvious choice but for other options check out these ideas from our New American Plate Challenge program.

For any previous soda-drinkers out there, are there strategies you used to cut back? Please share.


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