Saturday, July 30, 2011

Diet Soda Makes You Fat

by Kris Pitcher

I'll be honest, I've been avoiding this topic because I know it won't make me popular. But you're used to hearing the truth from me, and you know I don't sugar coat it for you. Now, I'm not even going to sugar substitute coat it. I'm just going to share some information and as usual you can make your own decision.

I always talk about the "value laden" decisions we make in and around nutrition and this one is no different. Butter or margarine, to drink alcohol or not, fat free or regular, meat or vegetarian...all choices we each have to make based on our values.

Sugar substitutes used to fall into this category. I say "used to" because with the exception of a few rats with cancer early on, we pretty much know the current ones on the market don't "harm" us. Except the science is beginning to tell us information about how the sugar substitutes in diet sodas are making us fat.

Now, maybe this is an issue of relativity. If the choice is sugar vs. sugar it's a matter of degree? Degree and your teeth falling out maybe. Again, things to think about as we make choices.

The San Antonio Longitudinal Study of Aging looked at 474 people over 9.5 years. They found the diet soda drinkers had a 70% increase over non-diet soda drinkers in waist circumference. This demonstrates a positive relationship between the consumption of diet soda and the increase in obesity. "Frequent" users of diet soda, those consuming more than 2 per day, had a mean increase in waist size five times greater than the non-diet soda drinkers. Check out the study abstract: Diet soft drink consumption linked to increased obesity.

The take away here is, more research is coming out supporting this link. If you're a 12-pack a day might have some decisions to make. If you enjoy one diet soda a day, that may be another story - I don't have the answer.

For me, if I was consuming something that was counter to my goals - I would need to think critically about taking that out of my diet. Our choices should be about aligning our actions with our goals. Food for thought...

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