You thought you were being good and cutting out the sugar. Well, the bad news is that it now looks like even diet sodas can make you fat, according to two new studies presented this week at a meeting of the American Diabetes Association in San Diego.
“Data from this and other prospective studies suggest that the promotion of diet sodas as healthy alternatives may be ill-advised” said Dr. Helen Hazuda, professor of medicine at University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. “They may be free of calories, but not of consequences.”
One of those consequences may be weight gain.
Researchers followed 474 diet soda drinkers, ages 65 to 74, for nearly 10 years. They found that the wastes of those who drank diet soda grew 70 percent more than those who didn’t drink them. Drinking two or more diet sodas per day busted belt sizes five times more than people who didn’t drink any sodas at all.
Of course, as your waist size grows, so do your health risks, including diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and other conditions.
So what’s really going on here? A second study may shed some light on the situation. In that study, researchers divided mice into two groups, one of which ate food laced with the popular artificial sweetener aspartame (NutraSweet). After three months, the mice eating the food with aspartame had higher blood sugar levels than the mice eating regular food.
The authors said that the results could “contribute to the associations observed between diet soda consumption and the risk of diabetes in humans.”
“Artificial sweeteners could have the effect of triggering appetite but unlike regular sugars they don’t deliver something that will squelch the appetite,” said Sharon Fowler, obesity researcher at UT Health Science Center at San Diego and a co-author on both of these studies. She also said sweeteners could inhibit brain cells that make you feel full.
So if you shouldn’t be drinking diet soda, then what should you be drinking?
Dr. Hazuda says, “I think prudence would dictate drinking water.”