Can Diet Soda Make You Fat?

It has long been accepted as fact that diet sodas, especially the legion of zero calorie sodas, do not contribute to weight gain.  Many dieters suffer through the transition from sugary sodas to diet sodas so that they can continue their consumption of the bubbly nectar without hurting their diet.  Sadly, two new research studies were presented at a recent American Diabetes Association conference that suggested that diet sodas should be left out of a proper dieter's menu plan.

The University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, Texas, was the site of two different studies of the effect of diet sodas on weight.  The first study tracked the waist measurements of more than 450 senior citizens (65-74 years old) over the course of ten years.  At the end of the study they found that test subjects who drank diet soda experienced waist measurement gains that were 70% more than subjects who did not drink diet sodas.  The group who drank at least two diet sodas a day was five times more likely to have significant waist measurement growth than abstainers.  The study used waist measurements as a corollary to serious health issues, like heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

In a second study, also at UT in San Antonio, some mice were fed food containing aspartame, a common zero calorie sweetener.  Ninety days later these mice had substantially higher blood sugar levels compared to a control group of mice who ate unsweetened food.  This increase in blood sugar levels is a precursor to type II diabetes.

While the connection between aspartame and diabetes in mice is statistically significant, it is much more difficult to connect the consumption of diet sodas with weight gain in humans.  Critics of the study point out that dieters are more likely to consume diet sodas than people who are already thin, making the human trail somewhat self-fulfilling.  It has also been known that drinking artificial sweeteners is far less effective as satisfying hunger than sugary beverages, so diet soda drinkers may be more likely to eat other, less healthy foods rather be satisfied by their beverage.

Dr. Hazuda, professor of medicine at UT Heath Science in San Antonio said of diet sodas, "They may be free of calories, but not of consequences.  I think that prudence would dictate drinking water."

So there you have it.  Our precious diet sodas may not be the dieter's friend, but will it change your behavior?  Click on the Comment button and let us know.

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