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Study finds diet sodas make you eat more, not less

A new study published Thursday in the American Journal of Public Health reveals that drinking diet sodas can actually make you eat more, not less.

New study shows diet drinks make you eat more, not less.
Cartera Media

Researchers from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found that around 20 percent of overweight and obese adults regularly consume diet beverages, including sodas, flavored waters and teas.

But, surprisingly, the study showed that consuming diet beverages made them eat more food as a way to compensate for the lack of calories they were getting from diet drinks.

This happens because the human body fights to maintain its weight, which is just one reason dieting can be so difficult. There are other reasons why diet beverages can be counterproductive for overweight and obese adults, according to the study’s lead researcher, Sara Bleich, an associate professor in the department of health policy and management at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

“When you make that switch from a sugary beverage for a diet beverage, you’re often not changing other things in your diet,” explained Bleich.

Blesch and her team of other researchers from Johns Hopkins collected data from the 1999-2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which they used for their study, analyzing the memories of the survey participants’ by asking them what they had eaten and drank during the last 24 hours.

As a result, they found that around one out of five overweight and obese adults in the U.S. routinely consumes diet drinks on a regular basis, which is nearly double the amount that their normal-weight counterparts drink.

“On the one hand, that’s encouraging. People are being told if you need to cut calories from your diet, discretionary beverages are a great place to start,” Bleich pointed out.

The researchers also reported that in 1965, only three percent of Americans said they drank diet sodas on a regular basis. Since then, the number of people consuming such beverages has increased considerably and at steady rates, except when it dropped 7 percent last year.

However, Bleich suspects the drop was due to people changing over from diet sodas to flavored teas, juices and vitamin-enriched flavored waters now available on store shelves and markets everywhere.

Not everyone eats more when drinking diet beverages though. Indeed, the researchers noted that normal-weight individuals actually benefitted from consuming diet drinks because it helped them maintain their healthy weight.

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