Studies Answer the Question, Do Diet Sodas Cause Weight Gain

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Fifty-nine percent of the American public drink diet soft drinks. The Calorie Contol Council reports that diet soda is the second most popular sugar free product in the nation. If you always believed choosing diet soda over regular was a healthier, smarter choice, you may want to take a second look.

Do Diet Sodas Cause Weight Gain?

Individuals who choose diet sodas in an effort to reduce their overall calorie intake may gain more weight than if they chose the full sugar versions. If you say, “Rats,” to that you are right. Purdue University released a study in the Behavioral Neuroscience journal which reports that experiments performed on rats using diets full of artificial sweetener caused them to gain weight. Rats given sugary foods did not. This casts serious doubt on the benefits of artificial sweeteners.

ABC News medical contributor Marie Savard reports that sweeteners actually alter a person’s metabolism and brain chemistry.

Although this study centered on animal research, the way the sweetness of the diet soda was registered in the rodent’s brain is similar to what happens in a human consumer of diet sodas. The sweeteners, which are between 200 to 13,000 times sweeter than sugar, create an insatiable need for sweets. In other words, it becomes an addiction. The addiction undermines the ability to judge how many calories have been consumed, and the satiation point becomes far out of whack.

Study Finds Diet Sodas Cause Weight Gain

Sharon P. Fowler, MPH and her colleagues from the University of Texas Health Science Center followed eight years of data on 1,550 Americans aged 25 to 64. She discovered that drinking one half a can of diet soda a day increased the risk for obesity by 37.5 percent. One to two cans of regular soda caused a 32.8 percent chance for obesity while study participants who consumed one to two cans of diet soda had a 54.5 percent chance of becoming obese.

“If you offer your body something that tastes like a lot of calories, but it isn’t there, your body is alerted to the possibility that there is something there and it will search for the calories promised but not delivered,” Fowler says.

She found that diet sodas stimulate the appetite causing your body to fill the void left by the diet drink.

Some Say No

Not all experts believe diet soda causes a weight gain. In fact, The Calorie Control Council issued a statement that promotes low-calorie sweeteners for weight control. Others promote switching to diet soda in order to cut down on regular soft drink consumption. It should be noted that the Calorie Control Council represents the low-calorie and reduced-fat food and beverage industry.

Maintaining an overall healthy diet without using diet soda as a substitute for food or as the only method of weight control seems to be key. Even still, the water cooler is a better choice.


Daniel J. DeNoon, Charlotte E. Grayson Mathis, MD - Drink More Diet Soda, Gain More Weight

David L. Katz, MD, Can Diet Soda Cause Weight Gain

ABC News, Study: Artificial Sweeteners Increase Weight Gain Odds

Calorie Control Council