Think you can substitute a diet in for the real thing and still lose weight? Think again.
Susie Swithers, a professor of psychological sciences and a behavioral neuroscientist at the college, reviewed recent studies that examined whether drinking diet sodas contributes to weight gain, overeating and other health issues. In one study, those who drank diet soft drinks were more likely to gain weight than those who guzzled down the real thing. Other studies report that diet soda can lead people to develop metabolic syndrome, which is a common precursor to cardiovascular disease.
Some of the experiments she reviewed imply that diet soda can be just as bad for humans as the real thing. The studies focused on diet sodas that contain aspartame, sucralose and saccharin, and according to this source, about 30 percent of American adults consume these regularly.
“The take-home message is for people to be much more mindful of how much sweetener, whether artificial or sugar, they’re actually consuming,” Swithers said.
“Are diet sodas worse for you than regular sodas? I think that’s the wrong question,” she continued. “It’s, ‘What good are sodas for you in the first place?'”
Amy Campbell, a dietitian at Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston, said people should use artificial sweeteners sparingly.
“The study confirms that we need to learn more about artificial sweeteners and not blindly assume that just because they don’t contain calories or carbohydrate that they have no physiological effect on the body,” she said.
While studies over the years have indicated that diet soda can be just as damaging as traditional soft drinks, more people still turn to them as alternatives in order to curb calories.
The question that still remains: Is it worth it?