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People Who Drink Diet Soda Tend to Consume More Calories

Update Date: Jan 17, 2014 11:12 AM EST

Despite the fact that diet soda has the word "diet" in it, the beverage has been under scrutiny within the past few years for being an unhealthy choice. In a new study examining the food choices of overweight and obese people, researchers reported that people who pick diet soda tend to consume more food.

"Although overweight and obese adults who drink diet soda eat a comparable amount of total calories as heavier adults who drink sugary beverages, they consume significantly more calories from solid food at both meals and snacks," lead author, Sara Bleich, an associate professor from the Bloomberg School health policy and management department at Johns Hopkins University, said reported by the Los Angeles Times.

In this study, Bleich and colleagues examined data compiled from a survey on 24,000 people living in the United States. The 1999-2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination survey collected data on adults aged 20 and older. The team found that overweight and obese people tended to intake the same amount of calories per day. However, overweight and obese people who drank diet drinks appeared to consume more calories from their food choices.

The researchers calculated that overweight individuals who drank diet sodas ate around 1,965 calories in food per day. For people within the same weight groups that drank regular sodas instead, they consumed around 1,874 calories per day. When the researchers compared calories per day in food for obese individuals, they found that the diet soda drinkers ate 2,058 calories whereas the other group consumed 1,879 calories.

"The push to diet soda may not make a lot of sense if you are then also eating more solid food," Bleich said according to FOX News. "The switch from a sugary beverage to a diet beverage should be coupled with other changes in the diet, particularly reducing snacks."

The researchers reasoned that the ingredients in diet beverages could be affecting people's metabolism or cravings, causing them to consume more calories. However, experts caution that this study did not find a cause-and-effect relationship.

The study, "Diet-Beverage Consumption and Caloric Intake Among US Adults, Overall and by Body Weight," was published in the American Journal of Public Health.

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