In the News: Diet Soda and Weight Loss
You may have heard more in the news about artificial sweeteners, like the ones in diet soda, and recent lawsuits about whether or not they make you gain weight or keep you from losing weight.
Here’s what recent research studies say:
- Early-Life Exposure to Non-Nutritive Sweeteners and the Developmental Origins of Childhood Obesity: Global Evidence from Human and Rodent Studies.
This study reviewed studies done in human children and rats exposed to non-nutritive sweeteners (acesulfame-K, aspartame, neotame, saccharin, sucralose, and stevia) in early childhood and prenatally. It found some studies showed that they’re at risk for obesity related outcomes but other studies didn’t show this. Overall the evidence was inconsistent.
This study reviewed 372 other studies and evaluated if non-nutritive sweeteners affected healthy people and their appetite and short term food intake, risk of cancer, risk of diabetes, risk of dental caries, weight gain and risk of obesity. This study also found the evidence to be inconsistent on the harmful effects of non-nutritive sweeteners.
Some studies show non-nutritive sweeteners have harmful effects like causing weight gain, some studies show they don’t.
If you’re wondering how something like diet soda with (almost) zero calories and zero sugar can keep you from losing weight, the experts aren’t sure either. One theory is that it messes up how your body regulates your blood sugar and insulin levels and this is what could cause you to gain weight or have trouble losing it.
What you should do about it:
- If you drink regular soda, it still seems to be worthwhile to transition to diet soda. This is because there are clear benefits to decreasing your sugar intake, including weight loss.
- If you already drink diet soda try testing this by transitioning to water or carbonated water. Then see if it decreases how much other sweets you eat and drink and helps you lose weight. I would try it for a few months because it will take some time to get used to not having diet soda.