If you’ve been trying to lose weight, those diet drinks may not be helping. In fact, they might even be promoting weight gain. Sorry.
That’s the message a new review of studies reaching back 30 years is supporting. The commentary was a joint effort from Imperial College in London and two universities in Brazil, and argues that nothing within existing science points to “diet” beverages being healthier than the non-diet version.
“A common perception, which may be influenced by industry marketing, is that because ‘diet’ drinks have no sugar, they must be healthier and aid weight loss when used as a substitute for full sugar versions. However we found no solid evidence to support this,” said Christopher Millett, a senior researcher on the study, in the press release.
Not only that, but there’s a chance that the sweet note in artificially sweetened beverages (ASBs) may still activate sugar receptors in the brain and make you crave more food — more sugary foods in particular — which is exactly what you thought you were avoiding by drinking diet soda. So, you think you’re making the healthy choice on a beverage, consuming fewer calories, and therefore opt for an extra cookie? Perhaps it isn’t such a solid plan after all.
The review doesn’t just dig into the impact of diet pop on our waistlines, it also highlights the environmental strain, noting the “300 litres of water required to produce a 0.5-litre plastic bottle of carbonated soft drink.” That stat is as alarming as it is ironic, given water is what we should be hydrating our bodies with.
The commentary calls for a more accurate description of ASBs, and that they not be marketed as “diet” or healthy beverages. At least until they can prove it.