Less Sugar Equals More Weight Gain

In All Health Watch, Diet and Nutrition, Featured Article

Scientists are bringing evidence to light that proves what we’ve been telling you for years: drinking diet soda doesn’t help you lose weight. On the contrary, it will actually pack on pounds!

Two research MDs have just finished a huge study on 5,000 people that lasted for 10 years. It shows that people who drink diet soda gain five more pounds and two more inches on their waists than people who don’t.

“Diet soda drinkers experienced increases in their waist sizes that were 178 percent greater than non-drinkers,” Dr. Sharon Fowler told us.

Fowler, who heads up clinical epidemiology research for the University of Texas (UT), is one of the two doctors behind the new study and.

But here’s the real bombshell. Not only does diet soda make you fatter, it’s actually worse for you than regular soda!

“Drinking diet (soda) seems much more closely related to becoming overweight (than drinking sugared soda),” Fowler says.

That will surprise a lot of people. And no wonder. For decades the mainstream medical community has blindly accepted the unproven assertions by the soda industry that diet soda is healthier. Yet there was never any evidence for that. No studies. No science. Nothing.

Common sense should have told them otherwise. Take a look at any group of Americans and what will you see? Fat people drinking diet soda while thin people are drinking sugared soda.

The alternative health world has been suspicious of diet sodas from day one. Doctor Robert Atkins warned against it. And so did the authors of the Zone diet.

And to make matters worse, the chemical flavors and sweeteners in diet soda have zero nutritional value. “Can you think of one good thing that comes from diet (soda) for your body?” asks Dr. Fowler. “You’re giving yourself the taste of nourishment without any at all.”

Diet Soda Widens Your Waist Line

Dr. Fowler worked on the study with Dr. Helen Hazuda, the director of health research at UT.

They looked at 474 San Antonio residents, recording their height, weight, and waist size, as well as notes on their leisure activities and whether they smoked. They kept logs of what people ate, how much they exercised, etc. In short, they tracked all the variables to ensure that the test results would be valid.

The study ran for almost a decade. At the end of it, the doctors reported these dramatic findings.

“On average, for each diet soft drink our participants drank per day, they were 65 percent more likely to become overweight during the next seven to eight years,” says Dr. Fowler. Plus 70 percent developed fatter waist lines.

“The promotion of diet sodas as healthy alternatives is ill-advised,” says Dr. Hazuda. “They may be free of calories but not of consequences.”

Even Harvard Links Diet Soda to Obesity

This isn‘t the only research that shows diet sodas lead to weight gain.

Four years ago a Harvard study, published in Circulation (the official journal of the American Heart Association) found that diet soda drinkers increased their chances of getting metabolic syndrome by 50%. (You can read that study here.)

The study was headed by Dr. Ravi Dhingra, a top doctor and senior lecturer at Harvard Medical School. He concluded that, “Those who drink soft drinks daily (are at) increased risk of developing metabolic syndrome.”

But that wasn’t the most significant thing about the study. His findings suggested that diet soda caused at least as much weight gain as regular soda.

And there are two further studies that support this link.

One came out of the University of Texas and was headed up by Dr. Jennifer Nettleton. Her findings were published in Diabetes Care in 2009. She looked at almost 7,000 people and studied how much diet soda they drank. She found that an additional 36 percent of people who drank diet soda developed metabolic syndrome over people who didn’t drink it.

A second study put out by the University of Minnesota looked at almost 10,000 people over nine years. They found that people who drank diet soda increased their waist size by 20 percent during that decade compared to people who didn’t drink diet soda. Their results appeared in a 2008 edition of Circulation.

Turning a Sweet Tooth into a Fang

At this point researchers are not sure. One possibility is that the sweeteners trick the body into reacting as if it were taking in sugar and thus causing the same insulin spikes and negative metabolic reactions that sugar consumption can cause. And since chemical sweeteners are manufactured to taste extra sweet, the metabolic reaction may be heightened.

A study came out just this year that supports this view.

It was headed up by Dr. Barbara Corkey, the vice chair of research at the Boston University School of Medicine. She’s also won the American Diabetes Association Award for Scientific Achievement.

She began giving lab rats aspartame and found that it triggers a massive release of insulin.

That massive release of insulin might be the result of how sweet aspartame is.

Dr. David Katz, the former director of Medical Studies at the Yale School of Medicine, says that, “Artificial sweeteners are 200 to 13,000 times as sweet as sugar. That’s a potent stimulus for turning a sweet tooth into a fang. The more you eat, the more you need to feel fully satisfied.”

Dr. David Ludwig, a professor of nutrition at Harvard Medical School, agrees. “Diet drinks… disrupt the hormonal pathways regulating hunger and satiety…(and disrupt) evolutionarily pathways.”

He says the biggest worry is that diet soda isn’t natural and we’re only beginning to understand how it affects our biology…despite the fact that we’ve been drinking it for years.

“The nation (has) embarked on a massive, uncontrolled public health experiment,” he says.

What This Means to You

Diet soda is poison. The government isn’t going to call it poison. The industry lobbyists won’t let it. But if you value your health you should think of it that way.

Our recommendation is simple. Stop drinking diet soda immediately. It is unnatural. It is making you fat. And it is also making you sick.

You really shouldn’t drink soda of any kind at all. Regular, sugared soda is bad for you because it has too much sugar and other chemicals too. Dr. Ludwig suggests switching “to traditional beverages like mineral waters.”

You can satisfy your sweet tooth by adding organic honey and organic coconut nectar to healthy drinks like green tea. Coconut nectar in particular is loaded with minerals and has a low glycemic index so it won’t spike your blood sugar and will regulate insulin release.

You can find this natural sweetener at good health food stores or online here.

We’ll continue to keep an eye on diet soda and will bring you more research as we uncover it.

Editorial Director, NHD “Health Watch”