Diet sodas have been marketed to appear as if they are a miracle answer to the obesity epidemic which we are being confronted with. However, recent research reveals that drinking diet sodas may be paradoxically associated with gaining weight. It has been concluded that diet beverages are not the answer for losing weight, reported Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health on Jan. 16, 2014.
Overweight and obese adults who drink diet beverages consume a greater number of calories from food than obese or overweight adults who consume regular soda or other sugary beverages, according to researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Sara Bleich, PhD, lead author of the paper, has said,
“Although overweight and obese adults who drink diet soda eat a comparable amount of total calories as heavier adults who drink sugary beverages, they consume significantly more calories from solid food at both meals and snacks.”
There has been a considerable increase in the consumption of diet soda in the past few decades, from 3 percent in 1965 to 20 percent today. It has surprisingly been observed that people who drink diet soda generally have a higher Body Mass Index (BMI) and eat more snack food than those who drink sugary beverages. Therefore overweight and obese people may have to give greater consideration to changing other components of their solid-food diet, such as sweet snacks, to help with weight loss.
The scientific explanation for this appears to be the finding that artificial sweeteners, which are present in high doses in diet soda, are associated with a greater activation of reward centers in the brain. This changes the reward a person experiences from sweet tastes. Therefore the brain’s sweet sensors may no longer provide a reliable gauge of energy consumption in people who drink diet soda because the artificial sweetener disrupts normal appetite control. Therefore, consumption of diet drinks may result in increased consumption of food.
Researchers have also conjectured that some people feel drinking diet soda offers them a “free pass” to eat more foods that are high in calories, thereby leading to weight gain, reports FitDay. Another theory suggests that the sweet taste of diet soda alerts our digestive system that high-calorie foods are coming. If the high calorie foods do not follow soon our bodies become confused and our appetite increases in anticipation of the food which is expected. The bottom line is diet soda does not appear to be an answer for people who want to lose weight. More exercise and a healthier overall diet are suggested.