Drinking Diet Soda May Lead to Higher Calorie Intake

Drinking regular soda can cause weight gain and may raise your risk for developing type 2 diabetes. But a new study suggests that switching to diet soda may not be much healthier.

In fact, you might just want to pour yourself a glass of water.

Researchers have found that drinking diet soda may lead you to eat more calories.

According to a study published in the American Journal of Public Health, researchers from the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found that  people who are overweight or obese who regularly drink diet soda actually consume more daily calories from food than people who weigh the same and drink regular soda or other sugary beverages.

“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,” said Sara Bleich, PhD, associate professor with the Bloomberg School’s Department of Health Policy and Management and lead author of the paper.

Drinking diet soda has become more popular in the past few decades, according to a news release from John Hopkins. In 1965, only 3 percent drank diet soda. Today, one in five people regularly sip diet beverages.

Previous research may explain why people who drink diet soda end up eating more calories. “Artificial sweeteners, which are present in high doses in diet soda, are associated with a greater activation of reward centers in the brain, thus altering the reward a person experiences from sweet tastes,” the news release states.

Simply put: when you drink a glass of diet soda, the brain may not be able to accurately gauge how much energy you’re consuming because artificial sweeteners disrupt appetite control.

“As a result, consumption of diet drinks may result in increased food intake overall,” the release states.

Although the study does not prove diet drinks lead to eating more calories, researchers said overweight or obese adults who want to lose weight and have switched to diet beverages “may need to look carefully at other components of their solid-food diet, particularly sweet snacks, to potentially identify areas for modification.”

Source: John Hopkins news release; Diabetologia

+ Learn about Diabetes Care Plans – a program at Bon Secours Hampton Roads to help people manage type 2 diabetes.

+ Are you trying to lose weight and live a healthier lifestyle? Learn about making healthy food choices with the Bon Secours Weight Loss Institute.

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