The prevalence of obesity has reached epidemic proportions and many Americans are making efforts to side-step extra calories. They are turning to diet soft drinks -- Diet Coke, Pepsi, Dr. Pepper and Sprite -- as their beverage of choice.
But is this a wise health choice?
Perhaps not, for according to a study by researchers at the University of Texas San Antonio, middle-aged adults who drink diet soft drinks may be drastically increasing their risks of gaining weight later on.
Diet Soda Discovery
The study monitored the weight and soda-drinking habits of more than 600 normal-weight patients aged 25-64. When researchers followed up on the patients some eight years later, they discovered:
Participants were 65 percent more likely to be overweight if they consumed one diet soda a day compared to if they drank none.
Two or more low- or no-calorie soft drinks raised the odds of becoming obese or overweight even higher.
Those who drank diet soda had a greater chance of becoming overweight than participants who drank regular soda.
By itself, diet soda cannot be blamed for weight gain; however, various contributing factors may play a role.
For example, a person who drinks a diet soda may feel it's acceptable to make up for those calories with another high-calorie food. And while the tongue is temporarily satisfied by the sweet taste of diet soda, the brain isn't similarly fooled and still craves calories for energy. Other studies have suggested people who drink an artificially sweetened beverage before a meal will eat more high-calorie foods than those who do not.
Therefore, with diet soft drinks and sugar-sweetened beverages (even fruit juices) linked to weight gain and obesity, many people are left wondering, "What is safe to drink?" The answer, of course, is water.
San Antonio Express-News July 6, 2005