drinking artificially sweetened diet sodas may lead to boost in appetite and weight gain, research study finds. Pornchai Jaito/EyeEm/Getty Images/EyeEm hide caption



drink artificially sweetened diet sodas might lead to rise in appetite and also weight gain, research finds.

You are watching: Do diet drinks cause weight gain

Pornchai Jaito/EyeEm/Getty Images/EyeEm

The "diet" in diet drinks might be a false promise for some soda lovers. True, they supply the fizz and also taste the a soda experience, there is no the calories. Yet, new research shows they also can leave people with increased food cravings.

A study published freshly in JAMA Network Open adds to the proof that drinks made with sucralose might stimulate the appetite, in ~ least amongst some people, and the study offers some clues as to why.

"We discovered that females and also people through obesity had actually greater brain reward activity" after consuming the man-made sweetener, claims study writer Katie Page, a medical professional specializing in obesity at the college of southerly California.

Both groups likewise had a palliation in the hormone the inhibits appetite, and they ate an ext food after ~ they consumed drinks v sucralose, contrasted with after continuous sugar-sweetened drinks. In contrast, the study discovered males and also people of healthy and balanced weight did not have an increase in either mind reward task or hunger response, saying they"re not impacted in the very same way.


"I think what was most surprising to be the affect of body weight and biological sex," page says. "They were an extremely important components in the method that the mind responded come the synthetic sweetener."



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The examine notes the most earlier research focused on males and people of regular weight. Yet this finding argues that diet drink sweetened through sucralose can be disadvantageous come the world who could benefit most native an effective diet strategy.

"It is precisely civilization with obesity who disproportionately suffer from a strong drive to eat high-calorie foods," claims Laura Schmidt, a professor of health policy at the college of California, san Francisco.

Page and also her team measured the an answer to diet soda in 3 ways. They provided functional MRI brain images the the 74 study participants to file the activation of parts of the brain linked come appetite and also cravings. They provided blood samples to measure up blood sugar and metabolic hormones that can drive hunger. And also they likewise tracked exactly how much entrants ate at a buffet table the was open up at the finish of each study session.

Determining whether diet soda help or hinders dieters" initiatives to shed weight has actually been tough. Some studies have displayed benefits, but long-term research study has uncovered that diet soda intake is attached to raised weight gain.


"This study provides some clues regarding why," Schmidt composed in an e-mail to gendergeek.org. "Artificial sweeteners could be priming the brain of people with weight problems to crave high-calorie foods."

There"s ongoing research into the complicated ways that artificial sweeteners may influence metabolism and weight, claims Susan Swithers, a behavioral scientist in ~ Purdue university who to be not connected in the new study however reviewed the findings.

"These results are continuous with patterns that we"ve actually watched in my lab in studies," Swithers says.

One theory is that it"s no the man-made sweetener itself that has a straight effect on the body. The idea is that synthetic sweeteners may confuse the human body by tricking it into thinking street is coming.



"You are claimed to acquire sugar after ~ something tastes sweet. Her body has been conditioned come that," explains Swithers. However diet soda may result in a disconnect. The sugar never arrives, and also this might blunt the body"s anticipatory responses and also throw turn off the capacity to successfully metabolize sugar that"s consumed later.

This might mean the "when you acquire the sweet taste there is no the sugar, that alters how friend respond to street the following time, since you don"t understand whether it"s coming or not," Swithers says.

For instance, Swithers" laboratory has documented that when pets with a history of consuming synthetic sweeteners get real sugar, their blood sugar levels rise higher than those of pets not fed fabricated sweeteners. "It"s a tiny effect, yet over time this could contribute to potentially far-ranging consequences," she says.

If this is continue in some world who consume diet soda, it could add to the hazard of kind 2 diabetes, since when blood sugar rises, the body needs to release more insulin to absorb the sugar. "So what you"re law is girlfriend are type of pushing the system harder," Swithers says.

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Given the brand-new research, have to diet-soda drinkers who space trying to reach a healthy and balanced weight give up on artificially sweetened drinks?

"People through obesity might want to fully avoid diet sodas for a couple of mainly to watch if this help to mitigate cravings for high-calorie foods," Schmidt suggests.