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There Is Nothing Diet about Diet Soda

Update Date: Jul 11, 2013 09:48 AM EDT

People who love soda often end up picking diet soda in order to cut calories and potentially lose weight. Even though diet soda is calorie free and has the word 'diet' in it, the beverage should by no means be a diet choice. Several studies have found that diet soda, since it uses artificial sweeteners can be detrimental to one's health. In a new review conducted by Purdue University researchers, they found that diet soda could be associated with health complications that arise from obesity.

The research team, headed by behavioral neuroscientist, Susie Swithers, who is a professor of psychological sciences, evaluated the data from several recent studies. Several studies have found mounting evidence that diet soda could be as bad as regular soda. Swithers looked for a potential link between long-term diet soda consumption and the likelihood of overeating, gaining weight and developing health issues. Based from these studies, the researchers reiterated the fact that drinking diet soda could lead to weight gain.

The researchers detailed their review. The drinks that were included from the studies contained sweeteners aspartame, sucralose and saccharin, which the researchers found were consumed daily by 30 percent of American adults. The researchers also acknowledged the growing trend of diet soda despite these studies that suggest diet soda is detrimental for one's health. Since this study is a review, no new data has resulted from it. However, as a review, the researchers are able to reveal just how many studies have found diet soda extremely unhealthy. Despite this, the American Beverage Association was quick to respond.

"This is an opinion piece not a scientific study," the association wrote in an emailed statement reported by USA Today. "Low-calorie sweeteners are some of the most studied and reviewed ingredients in the food supply today. They are a safe and an effective tool in weight loss and weight management, according to decades of scientific research and regulatory agencies around the globe.

Even though diet soda can provide people a no-calorie option, researchers reasoned that drinking diet soda could have a mental effect. For example, people who drink diet soda might choose a heavier and high-caloric food option simply because they feel like they have already cut that many calories from their beverage option. Aside from that logical reasoning, since diet soda is very sweet, the body can expect to be consuming calories. When these calories are not there, the body might signal to the brain that it needs food.

"You get this kind of confusion and that can lead to overeating, and at least in the animal model that can lead to an increase in blood sugar spikes," Swithers explained. "The take-home message is for people to be much mindful of how much sweetener, whether artificial or sugar, they're actually consuming."

Swithers' review was funded by the National Institutes of Health and was published in Trends in Endocrinology and Metabolism.

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