Study Shows Diet Sodas Are Linked to Weight Gain

Americans think that drinking diet sodas helps them lose weight, right? Well, a new study examining eight years of data on 1,550 Americans found that the diet soda drinkers gained weight rather than lost it.

The findings took the researchers by surprise, especially the fact that the risk of later becoming overweight or obese increased 41 percent for every can or bottle of diet soft drink a person consumed each day.

“What didn’t surprise us was that total soft drink use was linked to overweight and obesity,” Sharon P. Fowler, M.P.H. of the University of Texas Health Science Center told WebMDHealth.

“What was surprising was when we looked at people only drinking diet soft drinks, their risk of obesity was even higher,” adds Fowler, who presented the data at the annual meeting of the American Diabetes Association in San Diego.

Fowler’s study isn’t the first to suggest that downing diet drinks could pack on the pounds, rather than peel them off. In fact, as I learned while researching and writing my book, SUGAR SHOCK!, other researchers and experts have come to similiar conclusions.

For instance, Fowler cited another recent study in which rat pups fed artificial sweeteners craved more calories than animals fed real sugar.

More than a year ago, I already heard about this “paradoxical increase in appetite” that led to weight gain while interviewing experts for my book. In fact, one such of a whopping 80,000 women–that was conducted for the American Cancer Society–found that of those folks who gained weight, artificial sweetener users gained more than non-users.

Of course, diet soda drinkers–who can be rather fanatical (as I once was)–won’t want to hear this diet-devastating news. But, take heart, those of you hooked on artificially sweetened beverages.

After you quit the stuff for a while, you really don’t miss it, as I discovered years ago. In fact, if you sip a diet drink after several months without, you might very well feel overwhelmed (as I once did) by the unnatural, excessively sweet taste–so much so that you can’t polish off the contents. I suspect that you’ll even learn that you’d much rather have a glass of no-sugar-added, unsweetened, herbal tea than an artificially sweetened soda.

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11 thoughts on “Study Shows Diet Sodas Are Linked to Weight Gain

  1. Have you noticed that most overweight people order a diet soda with their lunch? Thanks for confirming that artificial sweetners can make you crave more food!

  2. What would be the message here — no soda is a good soda?
    If you shouldn’t have the sugary versions as another entry here pointed out, and you shouldn’t have the diet versions either…
    How would one go about discovering if the diet soda they consume is a problem? Stop drinking it and see if they eat fewer calories?

  3. Good questions, Melissa. I really wish I had better news for you. After all, sodas (diet or regular) do taste good to most Americans — that is, unless you’ve learned, as many of us have, to relish the tasty, wholesome, often-sweet taste of foods that grow in the ground or on trees.
    Unfortunately, though, as you know, Melisssa, I’ve mentioned previously in my free KickSugar support group (http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/kicksugar/) that I’m wary of any soda — whether it’s sugar-filled or sugar-free.
    You need to know that I did not come by this decision lightly. After all, at one point, I used to be a huge diet soda junkie. (From about 3 to 7 a day. I’ve been off them for about a decade.)
    It was only after interviewing researchers, food-industry insiders, scientists, toxicologists, nutritionists, and physicians that I grew very concerned of the potential harms that soft drinks and other artificially sweetened foods could cause. (Note am careful to say “could cause.”)
    A number of studies — often ones that aren’t well publicized — point to dangers from just about every artificial sweetener, according to researchers I’ve interviewed.
    As always, I encourage you to do what works for you. If you choose to drink diet soda, then that’s your decision. But I do strongly encourage you to delve into the subject before downing a bunch. (Melissa, thanks for writing — I’ll see you back in KickSugar!)
    One last thought. As far as figuring out if the diet sodas you’re consuming pose problems, I’d sugggest experimenting — try a while without and see how you feel. I suspect that you’ll feel better…
    I’ve found some interesting Web sites that delve into the subject well. One is http://www.sweetpoison.com (founded by a toxicologist, Dr. Janet Starr Hull) and her newer site, http://www.splendaexposed.com.
    Interestingly and perhaps ironically, the website funded by the sugar industry–whose sales have been harmed by Splenda’s popularity–has an enligtening Web site, too, at http://www.truthaboutsplenda.com.
    You might want to also check out Dr. Joseph Mercola’s site, too, for articles about artificial sweeteners. http://www.mercola.com/2000/dec/3/sucralose_dangers.htm.
    These are just a few of the many sites I’ve found.
    Connie
    Founder, this SugarShockBlog.com
    Founder, http://www.SugarShock.com
    Founder, Free KickSugar Support Group http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/kicksugar/
    Connie
    Founder, http://www.SugarShockBlog.com

  4. I gave up drinking diet pop with my lunch a couple years ago, when I noticed that I would indeed be hungrier sooner when I had pop versus just plain water. I have since turned to Stevia in my decaf until I can try to kick it altogether.

  5. I don’t know if I eat more when I drink diet pop!!!!! I do know that I retain a lot of water when I drink very much of any kind of pop. My face becomes all puffy and I feel very bloated. The water retention alone would cause a person to be heavier.

  6. This is crazy, I just started dieting a few months ago. I started the Weight Watchers diet and it said that diet soda was zero points so I was like, “That sounds good,” so I started drinking alot of diet soda, and I noticed that I started craving chocolate and I never liked chocolate before, and so I talked to my Weight Watchers consultant and she said that it is scientifically proven that diet soda makes you crave junk food. Now I am like addicted to diet soda, but I have vowed to myself not to touch a diet soda. Thank you for getting this out there!

  7. Yes, I have a have been gaining weight, even with consistant exercise. What was the cause? Excessive sweetner intake is the only “different” factor in my weight loss program. No more candy, soda, jello,or coffee with sweetners.

  8. OK, so obviously everything has a center, so what would be the center of the universe? what if it were the sun

    There is a center of the universe. it would have been the place where the big bang happened. The problem

  9. I can attest to the diet-soda-is-bad theory.
    For 30 years, I had two Diet Cokes or Diet Pepsis a day, and my metabolism suffered for it. I finally got sick of not losing weight, and as an experiment, banned diet soda, or any sodas, except for flavored seltzers, from my diet. Within a couple of days, my almost constant craving for cookies and sweets almost completely disappeared. I could walk by the cookie aisle in the supermarket and be completely disinterested !! Miraculous! I will NEVER go back to a diet soda habit.
    Aspartame is poison as far as I’m concerned!