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Type “diet soda” and also “weight” into your favorite find engine and also you may be surprised by what friend find.

You are watching: Does drinking diet soda make you gain weight

“Drink an ext Diet Soda, Gain much more Weight?” asks one headline. “Diet Soda: Doorway to weight Gain” shouts another.

In a recent search of a renowned Web browser, 49 that the very first 50 hits were for stories warning diet soda drinkers the the beverages could make them fill on the pounds.

The sole exemption was the Wikipedia entry because that "diet soda," which additionally cited the weight gain concerns.

If you believe what you check out on the Internet, the clear that drinking diet sodas causes weight gain, right?

Maybe, however probably not, weight problems researcher Barry Popkin, PhD, speak gendergeek.org. What is clear is that the scientific research is much from conclusive.

Diet Soda, load Gain evidence Scant

Turns out all the news stories and also blog postings point out the same couple of studies: study in rats conducted by two investigators at Purdue University and two researches that followed soda drinkers end time.

Popkin, who heads the division of nutrition epidemiology at the university of north Carolina, Chapel Hill, says none the the studies provides a convincing situation that no-calorie sodas contribute to weight gain.

No friend of the soft drink industry, Popkin’s own research web links sugar-sweetened carbonated drink to obesity and he has actually led a global effort to get the vending devices that sell them the end of schools.

“The bloggers the the human being have latched on to the notion that diet sodas reason obesity, but the science just isn’t there to ago it up,” Popkin says.

In an analysis published critical year, Popkin and co-author Richard D. Mattes, PhD, MPH, RD, who is a nutrition professor at Purdue University yet was not involved in the rat studies, the evaluation the research examining the influence of synthetic sweeteners on weight.

They found tiny support for the concept that no-calorie sweeteners stimulate appetite or add to weight problems in some other way, however they say much more research is required to understand for sure.

The Research component 1: The Rat Studies

When Purdue researchers Susan Swithers, PhD, and Terry Davidson, PhD, published their first studies in rats designed to check their concept that man-made sweeteners alter the body’s capacity to control calorie intake, they were not prepared for the push attention their research received.


“Frankly, we were stunned,” Swithers tells gendergeek.org. “It yes, really was a small study.”

In the an initial study, two teams of rats to be fed sweet, flavored, cola-like liquids. For one group, the liquid was always sweetened through sugar therefore there to be a constant relationship between the sweet taste and also calories. In the second group, the sugar-sweetened liquids to be alternated v liquids sweetened v the synthetic sweetener saccharin, so that the relationship between the sweet taste and calories was inconsistent.

After 10 days, the rats were provided a sweet, high-calorie chocolate pudding. Those exposed to the caloric and also non-caloric sweet beverages ate more of the pudding.

In an additional study, rats were fed high-calorie coco pudding or coco milk through their continual food. In ~ the end of the month, the coco milk team had got significantly an ext weight.

The first experiment said that by breaking the connection in between sweet taste and also calories, man-made sweeteners interfere through the body’s natural capability to judge calorie content, Swithers says. The second, the the human body is less able to identify energy ceded in fluid form.

In a later collection of researches the researchers fed rats yogurt sweetened with sugar or saccharine in addition to their continuous chow and found that the rats that ate the no-calorie sweetener took in more calories overall and also gained an ext weight.


The Research part 2: The Observational Studies

Another study regularly cited in the news stories and also blog postings followed civilization in san Antonio, Texas and showed the those that drank much more diet sodas gained an ext weight over time.

Researchers analyzed data from the san Antonio heart Study, i beg your pardon followed more than 5,000 adults for in between seven and eight years.

Although civilization who drank both sugar-sweetened and also diet sodas obtained weight, diet soda drinkers were much more likely to become obese. And the an ext diet sodas the entrants drank the higher their weight gain.

The Framingham analysis included 9,000 middle-aged men and women complied with for 4 years. Researchers discovered that contrasted to people who didn’t drink sodas at all, those that drank both sugar-sweetened and diet soda were much more likely to construct metabolic syndrome -- a swarm of symptom often linked to obesity that increase risk for heart an illness and diabetes.

Because both that these research studies were observational, that is difficult to say if the diet sodas play a direct duty in the load gain.

It might be that civilization switch to diet soda as soon as they start gaining weight without addressing other elements of their diet the are leading to the weight gain.

"Big Mac and also Diet Coke" Mentality

It may additionally be that civilization with really poor diets disproportionately drink diet sodas.

Popkin call this the “Big Mac and Diet Coke” mentality.

“Especially in America, we have actually a many of civilization who eat high-fat, high-sugar diets, but additionally drink diet sodas,” he says.

Sharon Fowler, MPH, who led the mountain Antonio study, acknowledges this, however she also thinks something rather is walking on.

"I am not convinced these sweeteners space as safe as they need to be, offered their widespread use,” states Fowler, a faculty combine in the division of clinical public health at the college of Texas health and wellness Science facility in mountain Antonio. “I am pertained to that we space in the middle of a giant experiment and also we don’t understand the outcome.”

Diet Soda Drinkers that Diet lose Weight

Popkin cites research, including his own, showing that people who drink artificially sweetened sodas as part of a calorie-restricted diet shed weight. So does Maureen Storey, PhD, who is senior vice president of science policy for the American Beverage Association.


“The current body of accessible science reflects that low-calorie sweeteners -- such as those offered in diet soft drink -- can aid reduce calories and assist in preserving a healthy and balanced weight,” Storey tells gendergeek.org.

She points out that the American Diabetes Association and also the American Dietetic Association assistance the use of no-calorie sweeteners come restrict calories and also sugar intake.

“Drinking diet beverages alone, however, is not sufficient to counter overeating -- the only method to maintain a healthy weight is through balancing calorie consumed v calories burned.”

Nutrition researcher David L. Katz, MD, who directs the Yale avoidance Research Center, claims the research study as a whole argues sugar substitutes and also other non-nutritive food substitutes have tiny impact on load one way or the other.

“For every research that mirrors there can be a advantage or harm, there’s another that reflects no "there" there,” Katz tells gendergeek.org.

The Sweet this Hypothesis

Katz agrees that the study linking diet sodas to weight obtain is scant and also inconclusive. However he"s still involved that artificial sweeteners condition world to want to eat more sweet foods.

“We describe a ‘sweet tooth,’ not a ‘sugar tooth,’ “ Katz says. “I think that is absolutely right. Ours taste sprout don’t really differentiate in between sweet in sugar and sweet from, say, aspartame. The proof that this sweet taste is addictive is quite clear.”

His theoretical concerns are bolstered by 20 years of real-world endure with his patients.

“What I have seen in my patients is that those that drink diet soda are much more vulnerable come stealth sugars,” Katz says.

Katz claims stealth sugars space those added to processed foods that don’t taste sweet, such together crackers, breads, and also pasta sauce. They normally come in the kind of high-fructose corn syrup.

Although part commercial pasta sauce contain no included sugars, others contain an ext than ice cream cream toppings, Katz says.

“The inquiry is, that prefers marinara sauce v all the high-fructose corn syrup?” Katz says. “The price is, a human being with a sweet tooth.”

In their study review, Popkin and also Mattes concede that usage of no-calorie sweeteners probably does promote a choice for sweeter-tasting foods. However they conclude that it"s no clear whether that affects weight obtain -- and also they say calorie-free sweeteners could aid people regulate their weight, if used instead of higher-calorie sweeteners.


Barry M. Popkin, PhD, professor, department of nutrition, Gillings college of windy Health, director, UNC Interdisciplinary obesity Center; director, Nutrition public health Division, university of phibìc Carolina at Chapel Hill.

David L. Katz, MD, director and co-founder, Yale prevention Research Center; director and also founder, Integrative medication Center; associate professor of windy health, Yale University institution of Medicine, new Haven, Conn.

Maureen Storey, PhD, an elderly vice president of scientific research policy, American Beverage Association.

Susan E. Swithers, PhD, professor of mental sciences, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind.

Sharon P. Fowler, MPH, faculty associate, division of clinical epidemiology, university of Texas health Science Center, mountain Antonio.

Mattes and Popkin, American newspaper of Clinical Nutrition, 2009; vol. 89.

gendergeek.org: “Drink more Diet Soda, Gain much more Weight?” June 13, 2005.

Fowler, S. ‘Obesity, June, 2008; online edition.

Ludwig, D. ‘Journal the the American medical Association, Dec. 9, 2009; vol 302: pp 2477-2478.

gendergeek.org: “Artificial Sweeteners may Reduce Body’s capacity to evaluate Caloric Intake,” Feb. 13, 2008.

gendergeek.org: “Artificial Sweeteners May damage Diet Efforts,” June 30, 2004.

Swithers, S. Behavioral Neuroscience, February 2008; vol 122: pp 161-173.

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Davidson, T. “International newspaper of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders, July 2004; vol. 28: pp 933-935.