Heard it all before

Posted on July 1, 2011


Even though I’ve heard it before, I was intrigued by this article when perusing Google News yesterday morning. As I read through it, I thought I would share it with you.

Diet soda is probably my arch nemesis as a Registered Dietitian. Clients and patients alike cling to it like it’s their last redemption and give me the side eye if they sense I am evening thinking of  talking about their beloved diet soda. I can certainly see the benefit of using diet soda to help wean off of the full sugar version but not a long-term replacement. I feel the same about artificial sweeteners in general.

The University of Texas, San Antonio presented the findings of their San Antonio Longitudinal Study of Aging (SALSA) at the American Diabetes Association’s (ADA) Scientific Sessions. What are those findings? Diet sodas may contribute to weight gain! The study included 474 older adults. When compared to non-diet soda drinkiers, participants who sipped the artifically sweetened syrup had a 70% growth in girth. Those who were drinking two or more diet sodas daily had a 500% increase in their waistlines.

Unfortunately, the exact mechanism by which weight is gained is unknown but there are theories. When sweet tasting foods are consumed, the brain expects a large amount of calories to follow. In diet foods, the sweetness is there but the calories aren’t, i.e. empty calories. You’ve heard that term before, right? This difference may actually prompt you to eat more than you would have and therefore consume unneeded calories. 

So, what to do?

If you’re expecting me to say “only drink water” … you’re right! Just kidding … sorta 🙂 I am definitely an advocate of greater water intake. Many of us are likely in a dehydrated state and could stand to drink more H2O. However, I’m a realist. If you are a regular diet soda drinker (especially more than one a day), make a plan to decrease your intake slowly. Even decreasing intake to two or three sodas a week will probably help decrease the likelihood of your waistline expanding. Try replacing diet soda with herbal tea; or spice up your water with lemon, orange or lime; and I’ll even recommend juice but instead of a full glass try diluting it with plain or carbonated water. I love mixing 1/4 glass of cranberry juice with 3/4 glass Perrier water. Hits the spot!  

Simply eliminating diet soda intake will not end obesity but reducing our intake is just one more weapon in our arsenal as we fight this good fight towards better health.

How do you quench your thirst?

– Kareen, RD
Posted in: obesity, weight gain