Ban Diet Coke?

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Low-calorie sweetened beverages DO NOT save calories compared to sugary ones

| May 2, 2019

| George Washington University – U.S. children and teens who consumed low-calorie or zero-calorie sweetened beverages took in about 200 extra calories on a given day compared to those who drank water, and they took in about the same number of calories as youth who consumed sugary beverages, according to a study published today.

“These results challenge the utility of diet or low-calorie sweetened beverages when it comes to cutting calories and weight management,” said Allison C. Sylvetsky, PhD, an assistant professor of exercise and nutrition sciences at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health (Milken Institute SPH) and lead author of the study.

“Our findings suggest that water should be recommended as the best choice for kids and teens.”

A previous study by Sylvetsky and colleagues found that children and teens frequently consume low-calorie sweeteners, not only in diet sodas but also in a variety of reduced calorie juice and sports drinks, as well as food and snack items.

The 2017 study found the consumption of low-calorie sweeteners jumped by 200 percent in children and teens from 1999 to 2012.

Yet despite the rise in their popularity, researchers still do not know how these sweeteners affect total energy intake or if they are helpful for weight management as they are intended to be.

To find out more, Sylvetsky and her colleagues looked at dietary recalls collected from 7,026 children and teens enrolled in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 2011 until 2016.

Kids and teens reported what they ate and drank during a 24-hour period.

The research team zeroed in on the reported consumption of sweetened beverages – those with low-calorie sweeteners and those with sugar.

Kids and teens who reported drinking low-calorie sweetened beverages, such as a diet soda, not only ingested extra calories compared to water consumers, but they also took in more calories from added sugars in foods and beverages compared to water consumers, the team found. Read more. 

Diet Soda: Good or Bad?

HealthLine – Diet sodas are popular beverages all over the world, especially among people who want to reduce their sugar or calorie intake.

Instead of sugar, they are sweetened with artificial sweeteners like aspartame, cyclamate, saccharin, acesulfame-k or sucralose.

Almost every popular sugar-sweetened beverage on the market has a “light” or a “diet” version — Diet Coke, Coke Zero, Pepsi Max, Sprite Zero, etc.

Diet sodas were first introduced in the 1950s for people with diabetes, though they were later marketed to people trying to control their weight or reduce their sugar intake.

Despite being free of sugar and calories, the health effects of diet drinks and artificial sweeteners are controversial.

Diet soda is essentially a mixture of carbonated water, artificial or natural sweetener, colors, flavors and other food additives.

It usually has very few to no calories and no significant nutrition. For example, one 12-ounce (354-ml) can of Diet Coke contains no calories, sugar, fat or protein and 40 mg of sodium.

However, not all sodas that use artificial sweeteners are low in calories or sugar-free. Some use sugar and sweetener together.

For example, one can of Coca-Cola Life, which contains the natural sweetener Stevia, contains 90 calories and 24 grams of sugar.

While recipes differ from brand to brand, some common ingredients in diet soda include:

  • Carbonated water: While sparkling water can occur in nature, most sodas are made by dissolving carbon dioxide into water under pressure.
  • Sweeteners: These include common artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame, saccharin, sucralose or an herbal sweetener like Stevia, which are 200–13,000 times sweeter than regular sugar.
  • Acids: Certain acids, such as citric, malic and phosphoric acid, are used to add tartness to soda drinks. They are also linked to tooth enamel erosion.
  • Colors: The most commonly used colors are carotenoids, anthocyanins and caramels … Read more. 

Diet soda may do more harm than good

By Danielle Dellorto, Mar 8, 2018

CNN – Diet soda drinkers have the same health issues as those who drink regular soda, it turns out.

Purdue University researchers reviewed a dozen studies published in the past five years that examined the relationship between consuming diet soda and health outcomes for the report, published as an opinion piece in the journal Trends in Endocrinology & Metabolism. They say they were “shocked” by the results.

“Honestly, I thought that diet soda would be marginally better compared to regular soda in terms of health,” said Susan Swithers, the author of this opinion piece and a behavioral neuroscientist and professor of psychological sciences. “But in reality, it has a counterintuitive effect.”

Stop drinking soda, for (your own) good

Artificial sweeteners in diet soda fulfill a person’s craving for a sweet taste without the calories. But that’s the problem, according to researchers. Think of it like crying wolf.

Fake sugar teases your body by pretending to give it real food. But when your body doesn’t get the things it expects to get, it becomes confused on how to respond.

“You’ve messed up the whole system, so when you consume real sugar, your body doesn’t know if it should try to process it because it’s been tricked by the fake sugar so many times,” Swithers said.

On a physiological level, this means when diet soda drinkers consume real sugar, the body doesn’t release the hormone that regulates blood sugar and blood pressure.

Diet soda drinkers also tend to pack on more pounds than those who don’t, the report says.

“The taste of sweet does cause the release of insulin, which lowers blood sugar, and if carbohydrates are not consumed, it causes a drop in blood sugar, which triggers hunger and cravings for sugar,” said CNN diet and fitness expert Dr. Melina Jampolis.

The artificial sweeteners also dampen the “reward center” in your brain, which may lead you to indulge more calorie-rich, sweet-tasting food, according to the report. Read more. 

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