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Sunday, June 8, 2014

Diet soda to help weight loss? Think again

There are times that in this space, I’ve mentioned different studies and surveys that have been done to determine what is and isn’t good for you if you’re trying to live a healthy lifestyle.

Each of those studies have to be looked at with a few things in mind, like how the researchers might have run their tests, or if they left something out or overlooked something, or even who was behind the research itself. ...

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There are times that in this space, I’ve mentioned different studies and surveys that have been done to determine what is and isn’t good for you if you’re trying to live a healthy lifestyle.

Each of those studies have to be looked at with a few things in mind, like how the researchers might have run their tests, or if they left something out or overlooked something, or even who was behind the research itself.

I came across a headline last week that made me do a double take, and I think it might make you do one, too.

A story on The New York Times website last week asked “Can diet drinks aid weight loss?”

The article goes on to say that a “randomized” trial, published in this month’s issue of Obesity, claims that drinking diet drinks may be better for those trying to lose weight than water.

Of course this goes against pretty much everything we’ve been told about diet drinks – specifically soda – for quite some time now. And if you check out who was behind the study, you’ll understand why.

The study was paid for by the American Beverage Association, a trade organization that represents the U.S. beverage industry.

The associations leaders include the president of Dr. Pepper Snapple Group and the president of Pepsi-Cola.

It’s no surprise then that a study funded by the ABA would tell you to keep drinking diet soda, it’s better for you than water.

“It makes me think of those drug commercials where the side effects are as bad, if not worse, than the condition they’re treating,” said Shelby Young, a personal trainer at Hampshire Hills. “Diet sodas provide no vitamins or minerals in any significant amount, nor any beneficial protein, carbohydrates or healthy fat sources. It’s essentially empty chemicals which the body still interprets as sugar.”

Young added that when the taste buds register something as sweet, the body still releases insulin to deal with what it thinks is sugar, even if there is none. That creates insulin insensitivity and that can lead to Type-2 diabetes.

But diet soda will apparently help you lose weight, again, according to the people who make it.

“The only potential mechanism I can think of for this study is that the carbonation filled empty stomach space, causing a temporary feeling of satiety,” Young said. “It reinforces why observational studies don’t provide much usable data because there are no understood mechanisms and it’s impossible to account for all confounding factors.”

This seems like a good time to remind everyone of a few things about diet sodas.

The caramel coloring contained in most sodas was found to increase the chance of lung cancer in mice, according to the government’s National Toxicology Program. The phosphoric acid in soda can erode tooth enamel, and drinking two or more a day could lead to kidney disease.

Maybe drinking diet soda does make you lose weight.

And maybe that happens because the soda is eating away at you from the inside.

Joe Marchilena writes a weekly fitness column for Hampshire Hills. To find out more information about the “90 Day Commit to Get Fit” program, call 603-673-7123 or e-mail hhinfo@hampshirehills.com.