[Paul A. Stitt said this 30 years ago.]
DIET DRINKS MAKE YOU FAT
REGULARLY consuming diet fizzy drinks will only make you fatter, new research shows.
Although they have fewer calories, the drinks fail to stop you piling on the pounds – and could trigger your appetite so that you eat more.
The news is a blow to millions of Britons who believe such drinks help to keep them in trim. Scientists came to their conclusion after looking at two important studies.
One involving more than 500 participants found that those who guzzled diet soft drinks every day had 70 per cent bigger waists after a decade than those who drank none.
And even those who kept to just two diet drinks a day put on almost two inches around the middle.
In the other study, mice that were fed a sweetener widely used in soft drinks had higher blood sugar levels after three months.
Artificial sweeteners are thought to be a cause of weight gain by boosting a craving for food. Professor Helen Hazuda, who presented the findings at a diabetes conference in San Diego, California, said: “If you compare people who consume no diet sodas to those who consumed any, there was a dramatic difference.”
She added: “Data from this and other prospective studies suggest that the promotion of diet sodas and artificial sweeteners as healthy alternatives may be ill-advised. They may be free of calories but not of consequences.”
The researchers, based at the University of Texas, cannot yet conclusively say that diet drinks cause expanding waistlines, but their findings add to a growing number of studies that make the link.
One theory is that the body uses taste to regulate hunger, and that artificial sweeteners may be disrupting that mechanism.
Prof Hazuda’s colleague Sharon Fowler said: “The thing about artificial sweeteners is that they could have the effect of triggering appetite, but unlike regular sugars they don’t deliver something that will squelch the appetite.”
Low-calorie drinks command more than 60 per cent of the soft drinks market in the UK, with shoppers opting for them in growing numbers. Dr John Stevenson, consultant physician at Imperial College London, said: “The problem with this study is that they need to propose a biological mechanism to explain the observational findings.
“And it takes a quantum leap to relate the effects of aspartame [sweetener] in diabetic-prone mice to humans.
“One possible explanation is that in America very obese people can be seen wandering round with a triple cheese-burger in one hand but always with a diet drink in the other, presumably working on the basis the diet drink cancels out the calories in the food.”