Diet drinks might actually be making you fatter

Posted January 05, 2017

By switching to diet drinks many people feel, according to the new research, that this "virtuous act" allows them to reduce the amount of exercise they take or to eat greater quantities of food that is higher in fats or sugars.

They all determined that previous studies - which claimed that diet drinks could help shed the pounds - should be discounted, due in large part to their funding from the beverage industry.

Of course, it's not recommended that you switch to the full-sugar versions of your favourite drink, either. "However, we found no solid evidence to support this", Professor Christopher Millett from Imperial College London's School of Public Health said. The problem with drawing conclusions from observational studies is that the overweight or obese are more likely to buy low calorie beverages because they have been advised to do so for decades.

The researchers said despite having no or very little energy content, there is a concern ASBs might trigger compensatory food intake by stimulating sweet taste receptors.

A review of research evidence concludes there is nothing to support claims that sugar-free versions of popular soft drinks can help combat obesity and related diseases such as Type 2 diabetes.

In addition, the production of ASBs has negative consequences for the environment, with up to 300 litres of water required to produce a 0.5 L plastic bottle of carbonated soft drink.

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Co-author Dr Maria Carolina Borges, from the Federal University of Pelotas in Brazil, said: "The lack of solid evidence on the health effects of ASBs and the potential influence of bias from industry funded studies should be taken seriously when discussing whether ASBs are adequate alternatives to SSBs (sugar-sweetened beverages)".

Researchers at Israel's Weizmann Institute of Science found that people who regularly used artificial sweeteners, including aspartame and saccharin, had elevated levels of HbA1C, a measure of blood sugar.

The British Soft Drinks Association, however, said the industry was being "demonised without evidence", while Professor Susan Jebb, the government's obesity advisor, said switching to less sugary versions of fizzy drinks was a "step in the right direction", although drinking tap water was always the healthiest and most environmentally friendly option, The Independent reports.

An extensive evidence review by Public Health England has showed swapping to low or no sugar drinks goes some way to managing calorie intake and weight. As most people believe that they will become fitter and healthier by consuming beverages labeled as sugar-free rather than the regular sodas, experts discovered that the former type is more risky and more capable of causing obesity among consumers. The fact that most people believe the drinks are healthier also tends to lead to over-consumption.

In his opinion maintaining healthy weight needs more hard work than replacing one product with another. "The conclusion that reduced sugar or sugar-free drinks should not be promoted or seen as part of a healthy diet seems unwarranted and likely to add to public confusion", he added. It is vital to check that calories used match calories consumed and this requires an analysis of the whole diet and not just a drink!