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Diet Soda Leads to Weight Gain, New Studies Find

Another Study Says It: Diet Soda Leads to Weight Gain

Study after study has told us to watch out for those empty, sugary calories in sweetened drinks like soda, but two new studies remind us about the dangers of diet soda — they too can lead to weight gain and may raise your risk for developing diabetes.

The studies were presented at a diabetes conference this weekend, and together they show that drinking diet soda may just be another thing in our diets that is making us fat. One study followed 474 older-age diet-soda drinkers and found that their waistlines grew 70 percent more than non-diet-soda drinkers, even when the researchers accounted for differences in age, physical activity level, and diabetes status.

The news gets worse; read on for how bad a two-diets-a-day habit is for your waistline.


Those who drank two diet sodas a day or more had waistlines that were 500 percent larger than the nondrinkers. All that extra bulge around the belly is a risk factor for diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure.

This isn't the first study to point out diet soda's role in weight gain. Others have found that artificial sweeteners like aspartame, which is used in diet sodas, make our bodies crave calories. The result? We give in to those cravings by eating even more sweet, high-calorie foods; not only that, noncalorie sweeteners may also trigger our bodies to start storing more calories as fat.

The other study presented at the conference was performed on mice and found that those whose food was sweetened with aspartame had higher fasting blood sugar levels than the mice who ate nonartificially sweetened food. That, the researchers say, can lead to diabetes.

More and more, diet sodas seem to be getting a bad rap. But if you're a fan of the occasional Diet Coke, do studies like these worry you, or is your philosophy "everything in moderation"?

Image Source: Thinkstock
Sarah14767694 Sarah14767694 4 years
The diet drinkers did not have waistlines that were 500% bigger. The article states clearly that "waistline growth was 500% greater than among non-drinkers."
Ana14779026 Ana14779026 4 years
Honestly, I don't know yet. I think my philosophy should be everything with a little moderation (after all we're all going to die, almost as if however/and whenever, we are supposed to die - i dont know if i believe in destiny, yet either.) Still, I'm becoming more & more worried. Things about long term effects of these new men-made substances & such, about how we are so easily altering ourselves & our world, and how dangerous will that be are on the top of my list of worries like such. Yet, hasn't the world almost always felt that way? Weren't we always afraid of the new, and what would that do to us? Because we're probably just very afraid of the end. We want to live more & more, and we realize how much life is a gift. We're happier, and the world just becomes easier & more comfortable... In the end, shouldn't we just enjoy what we have? or should we worry about what in any way we will be altering, because we must go on?
GummiBears GummiBears 6 years
@nicole121482 Well that will not apply in the US since most of the regular sodas in here is made with corn syrup. Despite the corn farmers, it is not the same as cane sugar, no matter how many ad campaigns to convince the public otherwise. You can find some sodas made with cane sugar. Hansen's is one and soda from Mexico is another.
GummiBears GummiBears 6 years
I am not shocked at all by this article. I remember this snarky girl in college was chastising a group member for drinking a soda because "it is loaded with sugar" but she wouldn't think twice in quaffing down three cans of diet Coke within three hours. *rolls eyes* Also I noticed around my area when I see a person drinking a diet soft drink, their meal consist of a greasiest sandwich or entree but since they have a diet soft drink, they rationalize that they are eating sensible. *bewildered shrug* Personally I could never get into drinking diet soda because it messes with my GI tract, I wind up with a weird headache, and the aftertaste is just disgusting. But to be fair and honest, I used to chug regular sodas on the regular until I decided to give it up for a new years resolution. I tried swapping it for sports drink and the like but the artificial sweeteners does not agree with my system. Such a difference when I cut out sugary drinks. Lost some weight and gained muscle (with a mix of cardio and strength training). I do indulge from time to time but I always drink water with it.
angri angri 6 years
@GirlOverboard it was the only thing I changed, at least consciously. It's possible that, psychologically, I was feeling deprived and allowed myself to cheat a little ("Just ONE cookie won't hurt!") -- but I think that in a discussion about diet soda, psychology is an important consideration, since one of the primary justifications for the correlation between diet soda consumption and weight gain has historically been the idea that if you drink diet soda, it's ok to super-size your meal or whatever. Clearly, this isn't a universal. Funny you should mention talking with my doctor. I had discussed with my then-gastroenterologist that I had given up Diet Coke in an effort to improve my health (I had high liver enzymes) and he actually rolled his eyes at me and said "THAT won't work!" This guy was a jerk, and it made me really, really want it to work. I thought, I'll show him. I won't drink any more diet soda and I'll live forever and won't HE be sorry. Siiiiiiiigh. Eventually, I started drinking diet soda again, started taking a lower dose of one of my pills, and began spending 2 hours a day, five or six days a week, at the gym, and finally dropped the weight. So I believe very strongly that it's ALL of our habits that contribute to our health and weight, and we shouldn't be distressed over a study showing correlation (but not causation) between our favorite treats and a health issue. Researches could also do a study correlating use of crutches with foot and leg problems, but to imply that using crutches makes you break your foot would be foolish, and to recommend that people with broken feet find some other way to get around would be harmful. For now, I'll just enjoy my Diet Dr Pepper. Also in a head-to-head between aspartame and HFCS, which is really the lesser of those evils?
Skorpio Skorpio 6 years
Soda makes me farty....thats why I dont like it! lol
jamierd jamierd 6 years
Anyone over 40 will tell you: just because you eat and drink what you did when you were 20 doesn't mean you can look the same as you did when you were that age. I know this because as a registered dietitian, many older patients come to me looking to manage their weight. To provide the best counsel to my patients and corporate clients like Coca-Cola, I look at the science; for these particular studies, we must consider some of the limitations. First, the age range of the population used in the study linking diet soda consumption to obesity was 65-74 years. At those ages there is a lot more going on in our bodies physiologically that have a greater impact on us than just what we consume. In addition, as most people grow older they tend to engage in less physical activity. This is compounded by our biological increase in body fat percentage and decrease in muscle mass percentage as we age. Second, in the study linking aspartame consumption and increased risk of diabetes in mice, once again additional reasons for possible disease development were not mentioned. Plus, mice and humans are not the same.
GirlOverboard GirlOverboard 6 years
@angri That might not have anything at all to do with your diet soda vs your water/tea. If it's the ONLY thing you changed about your lifestyle (including diet, medications, your job, etc) then that might be reason to cry "Not worth it!" but otherwise you cannot honestly think that this one change is what made you gain weight. Even if you changed nothing else, metabolisms change with age or it might be time to talk to your doctor about your unexplained weight gain.
rafaela-losardo rafaela-losardo 6 years
I'm sorry, but like flyingchange I drink diet soda everyday and I'm also thin and healthy. I guess these drinkers already had a weight problem, which is not my case. Oh! And I don't have any "crazy" sugar craves, thank you very much....
Carrie14884290 Carrie14884290 6 years
Really? You only see fat people drinking diet soda? I don't know how old these "older-age" diet soda drinkers are but I've had a two-a-day habit for 15 to 20 years and am still thin and healthy. I might try to reduce my intake but it's not a high priority....
brandon20 brandon20 6 years
Wouldn't it make sense that people who drink 2 diet sodas a day would be larger people wanting to not take in extra calories? If you're mindful of all the calories you take in, you won't have an issue. I think people think "if I have a diet soda, I can have that cupcake." They should have the diet soda and skip the cupcake. Use common sense.
angri angri 6 years
Hmmm... my own experience doesn't really bear this out. I gave up diet soda (I stuck to water and sometimes unsweetened tea) for a year and actually gained weight. Not worth it!
6chars 6chars 6 years
I always knew it! You can see only fat people drinking it...
Jenny-Sugar Jenny-Sugar 6 years
I'm definitely sending this to some friends who live on diet soda.
laurenislost laurenislost 6 years
Fine fine fine, I am gonna have to give up Diet Coke..
bellakaoru bellakaoru 6 years
It's hard because it's delicious and calorie free!! There is nothing else that tastes sugary and fun that doesn't have calories! Not to mention the caffeine addiction. I was actually thinking about giving up my precious Diet Coke, but how? What's going to get me through the afternoon slump, or serve as a treat when my husband's eating desert? Ahhhgg!!!. Clearly, I have a problem.
tea-bag tea-bag 6 years
i think you just convinced me to give up diet soda! i'm scared straight!
yse yse 6 years
Diet drinks have always disturbed me. Even as a child, we never had diet stuff in the house and so whenever I had it it had this awful artificial taste I couldn't stand. Like most children, I drank a lot of soda as a kid but I gave up the (regular) habit when I got to college. Now I stick to water, tea, and coconut water (after exercise) and only the ever so rarest of soda or juice. Besides, I'd rather eat my calories than drink them - so much more satisfying. I don't really know why this is so hard. This is probably the #1 best way to lose weight in terms of simple diet adjustments: stop drinking sugary or diet soda OR juice.
nicole121482 nicole121482 6 years
If the philosophy is everything in moderation...a regular soda is better for you because it uses plain old sugar...
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