Diet soda doesn't help you lose weight. It might be linked to diabetes and heart disease. It might actually be just as bad as the non-diet version. This is what a Purdue University scientist found after reviewing a number of recent studies. Her conclusions were reported in the journal Trends in Endocrinology & Metabolism and noted in USA Today.
Behavioral neuroscientist Susie Swithers, Purdue professor of psychological sciences examined a collection of studies that analyzed whether drinking diet soda over the long term increases the likelihood that a person will overeat, gain weight and then develop other health problems. One study found that people who drank artificially sweetened soda were more likely to gain weight than those who drank regular soda. Other studies found that people who drank diet soda were twice as likely of developing metabolic syndrome, which can be a precursor to cardiovascular disease, than people who didn't. Some of the studies suggested that diet soda may be just as bad for us as the sugar-packed regular stuff.
For those who want to hedge their bets and chug something somewhere between a diet and regular cola, Coke's just debuted Coca Cola Life, a stevia-sweetened “mid-calorie” version of their iconic beverage in Argentina.
"Are diet sodas worse for you than regular sodas? I think that's the wrong question," Swithers told the paper, "It's, 'What good are sodas for you in the first place?' "
The American Beverage Association, the trade association for the non-alcoholic drinks industry, emailed USA Today this response to Swithers' study: "This is an opinion piece not a scientific study," the organization said in an emailed statement. "Low-calorie sweeteners are some of the most studied and reviewed ingredients in the food supply today. They are a safe and an effective tool in weight loss and weight management, according to decades of scientific research and regulatory agencies around the globe."
It seems some think that even diet soda advertising is harmful to your health. The “Diet Coke Hunk” narrowly escaped being banned in the U.K. for encouraging irresponsible behavior. Remember the ad featuring a bunch of women rolling cans down the lawn in an attempt to get him to shed his shirt? A second installment was almost banned because viewers felt it was “likely to condone or encourage behaviour that could risk health or safety.” (The behavior was the can rolling, not the drinking of the beverage.)