A new study published in the American Journal of Public Health found that overweight individuals are much more likely to consume diet soda than healthy individuals. Diet soda has seen its fair share of bad press, outlining the dangers of artificial sweeteners putting you at risk for heart attack and cancer. But if you were holding onto the hope that despite this, you could at least drink it to help control your weight, that’s just not going to happen.
Researchers at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health analyzed the snacking habits and soda consumption of a sample group of adults over the age of 20 from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey over the course of one year. What they found might put you off your diet soda: The heavier the people were, the more diet soda they drank.
The numbers on the scale kept increasing along with consumption of diet soda: 11 percent of healthy-weight, 19 percent of overweight, and 22 percent of obese adults in the study said they drank diet beverages regularly. While total intake of calories was higher among adults consuming sugar-sweetened beverages compared with diet beverages, it was a difference that was only significant for adults considered to be of healthy weight. So when it came to people who were overweight or obese, the calories cut by sipping on a diet drink were quickly made up by the calories in the food that was consumed alongside it.
The link between obesity and diet soda has been well documented by the scientific community. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says one-fifth of the U.S. population consumes diet soda on a daily basis, numbers that are only increasing through the years. Data compiled over a 10-year period showed that 20 percent of Americans over the age of two (that’s right, toddlers are drinking this junk, too) consumed diet drinks almost daily between 2009 to 2010.
One in every five people! No wonder the soda industry is going strong, with Diet Coke signing songstress Taylor Swift in 2013 to represent the brand, while Pepsi has celebrities Beyonce and Sofia Vergara on board. Big names, big dollars, huge sales.
But these lovely ladies are hardly fat, now, are they?!
The Johns Hopkins study found that people who are overweight drink more diet soda and consume more calories from solid food than those in the same weight groups who prefer the sugar-laden stuff.
In fact, when it comes to diet soda, the overweight group consumed about 88 calories more per sitting. That caloric amount doubles to 164 when a person reaches the obese category. So if the idea is to cut down on calories, the diet soda won’t do the trick.
Replacing sugar beverages with diet soda for lower calorie intake backfires, leading to increased caloric intake in other areas. So you end up eating more than you need. To trim your weight and protect your health, you need to cut out your soda habit altogether, increase your water and decrease your calories overall.
Getting to the core of obesity issues could mean a complete lifestyle overhaul. It’s about understanding why and when you eat, and keeping a food journal to take a hard look at every item of food that goes into your mouth, regardless of the diet label.