July 10th, 2013
05:01 PM ET
Study: Diet soda may do more harm than good
Diet soda drinkers have the same health issues as those who drink regular soda, according to a new report published Wednesday.
Purdue University researchers reviewed a dozen studies published in past five years that examined the relationship between consuming diet soda and health outcomes. They then published an opinion piece on their findings in the journal Trends in Endocrinology & Metabolism, saying 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 report's author and a behavioral neuroscientist and professor of psychological sciences. “But in reality it has a counterintuitive effect.”
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.
The fake sugar in diet sodas 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. While the studies they reviewed only looked at diet soft drinks, the researchers suggest that this could apply to other products that contain artificial sweeteners as well.
"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," says Swithers.
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.
Video: Are diet sodas dangerous to your health?
Diet soda drinkers also tend to pack on more pounds than those who don’t drink it, the report says.
“Research shows that sweet taste can increase appetite and the regular consumption of the high intensity sweetness of artificial sweeteners may encourage sugar cravings and dependence,” says 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 in more calorie-rich, sweet-tasting food, according to the report.
The American Beverage Association says the report was "an opinion piece, not a scientific study."
"Low-calorie sweeteners are some of the most studied and reviewed ingredients in the food supply today," the association said in a statement. "They are safe and an effective tool in weight loss and weight management, according to decades of scientific research and regulatory agencies around the globe."
Diet soda's negative effects are not just linked to weight gain, however, the report says.
It found that diet soda drinkers who maintained a healthy weight range still had a significantly increased risk of the top three killers in the United States: diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
"We've gotten to a place where it is normal to drink diet soda because people have the false impression that it is healthier than indulging in a regular soda," says Swithers. "But research is now very clear that we need to also be mindful of how much fake sugar they are consuming."
There are five FDA-approved artificial sweeteners: acesulfame potassium (Sunett, Sweet One), aspartame (Equal, NutraSweet), neotame, saccharin (SugarTwin, Sweet'N Low), and sucralose (Splenda).
“Saccharin was one of the first commercially-available artificially sweeteners, and it’s actually a derivative of tar,” says Swithers.
Even natural sweeteners like Stevia, which has no calories and is 250 times sweeter than regular sugar, are still processed extracts of a natural plant and may have increased health risks.
“Just because something is natural does not always mean that it is safer,” says Jampolis.
There more studies and research that need to be done. But in the meantime, experts say: Limit consumption.
“No one is saying cut it out completely,” says Swithers. “But diet soda should be a treat or indulgence just like your favorite candy, not an everyday thing.”
Sugary drinks linked to 180,000 deaths worldwide
About this blog
Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.
You are quite right, EXACTLY: Everything are chemicals! No damn silly exceptions! I am a professional chemist and I feel shame reading blunders like that..... DNA is a huge chemical molecule, KEEP THIS IN MIND, everybody! As to the diet drinks they ALWAYS looked worse in my (Dye Diet Food Rating System) than regular sodas. NO long-term health effects in humans were known so all those who keep drinking the artificially sweetened crap agree to serve as guinea pig for decades. That's silly and even suicidal.
Diet drink do have harmful chemicals. A lot of overweight people who complain of migrains is mainly because of them consuming artificial sweeteners and diet drinks that have Aspartame and Neotame. The corporations hardly even lable it because they bribed FDA and passed laws that they dont have to lable them. Stop consuming artificial sweeteners and your migrains will go away as soon as the artificial sweetener chemicals flush out from your body (it takes a month or two). I personally experienced that.
As Saturday Night Live noted so many years ago,
"Without chemicals, life itself would be impossible."
Now, let's all raise a glass of H2SO4 to celebrate.
Nuh uh. Light isn't chemicals. And neither is quark-gluon plasma. Learn your fact, mate.
Timbo- we get it, you're smart. but in your rush to impress us with your vast knowledge, you totally missed the point
Dye Diet and Awesome, if you guys are going to sound credible, first learn the rules of grammar.
"Everything are chemicals." (is)
"Diet drink do have harmful chemicals." (Already plural like a group of deer? Huh?)
I am a 54 year old White American male. I have been drinking Diet Sodas since I was about 21 years old (before Diet Coke came out). Hated the Saccharin taste). I weighed 265 Lbs when I started my first real diet. Lost 115 lbs in 5 years. Have drank diet colas ever since. I gained back about 80 lbs over 15 years, now trying to lose it again, have lost 25 lbs in 3 months. Still drinking diet colas. Had a colonoscopy and am in good digestive health.
The difference is how the chemicals are broken down in the body. Yes, we are all made of the same molecules, but lab-created chemicals are much more toxic and create more free-radicals in your body than unprocessed (or marginally processed) foods. The cigarette companies don't have much of an issue with Nicotine and yet everyone with a rational mind knows that as beneficial as Nicotine is to certain areas of the brain, a cigarette (or other methods of nicotine retrieval) is dangerous. As helpful as caffeine and sugar is to certain chemical processes in the body, diet sodas (and sugary caffeinated drinks in general) are awful for ones health.
I miss sodas made with regular sugar, though. There was an old-timey soda shop that had REAL root beer, made with sugar (not HFC), and oh man nothing could beat that. *le sigh*
Diet Soda Believer/God Truster:
If you are paying attention to portion levels and are exercising, as well as cutting the high-calorie 'regular' soda's then yeah, you're going to lose weight. If the only change you've made is switching to diet sodas, how much soda were you drinking before?
In general, however, most people will only drink diet sodas, while binging on other foods. Just because something is 'fat-free' or 'reduced-calorie' doesn't mean you can have the whole box. Ever hear the joke of the person double-sizing everything but drinking a 'diet-soda' to cut the calories?
reply to "Awesome" – Glad someone mentioned the migranes – I think it is a very common reaction to arteficial sweeteners, especially Aspartame. I used to indulge in the occasional diet soda, but one day I ended up not only getting a migrane, but I also felt my heart racing and blacked out. Ended up at a cardiologist and had full heart scans, with no signs of any issue. Shortly afterward, I did a blind test at home, in which I drank several glasses of water, one with Equal disolved in it, one with SweetNLow, one with Splenda, and one with plain sugar. I did not know which was which (had to hold my nose and wash my mouth out afterward, because they do taste different), but my husband did. Sure enough, the Equal (aspartame) gave me a pounding headache and made my heart race. Quit the stuff altogether (it's actually in a LOT of foods!), and haven't had a migrane, or heart issues, since.
This article needs to be put back the home page of CNN. It was hardly there only for a few hours. I think people need more awareness of harmful effects of artificial sweeteners in diet drinks. The artificial sweeteners like Aspartame and Neotame was passed through FDA with an inside job where large corporation paid politicians to appoint their employees to top executive positions in FDA. Its a big corruption scandal that CNN needs to do more investigative journalism and expose it.
There is no "evidence". I've been drinking Diet Coke for over 25 years. My weight is the same. No cravings. No health issues. Nada. People want to believe that something OTHER than their own actions are responsible for the fact that they are overweight. Lazy and unaccountable. Some things never change.
I somewhat enjoyed this article for weird reasons. When I worked at Burger King (many years ago), I remembered the majority of people who ordered Double Whoppers tended to opt for the Diet Coke. Most of these people were 'large' and not in a 'good way'...Is there something else in the mix?
The double whoppers would be the first thing I'd guess.
there is a population who simply don't like sweet products. they order diet coke not for the limited calories but because it tastes less sweet the regular coke, a diet coke and a whopper makes sense for them.
Some people drink diet soda because they do not process sugar well (like me). Sugary (corn syrupy) drinks cause severe gut pain, so when someone orders a meal that comes with a drink... we only have 2 options (3 if you count water). Regardless, ALL sodas should probably be treated like candy bars... a treat consumed only once in a while. I'm quitting today, cold turkey... goodbye diet coke, hello boring water. And yes, I've gained weight since I restarted drinking diet sodas several months ago. K!
When I was diagnosed with diabetes, I stopped drinking regular soft drinks and switched to artificially sweetened... Now I have switched to water. I cannot even take one sip of a regular soda. The sugar tastes repulsive to me. Diabetics need to weigh the risks between high blood sugar and artificial sweeteners. Discuss with your Endocrinologist.
I disagree with the statement that people drink diet because it doesn't taste as sweet. That's merely an opinion for some. I personally think diet products taste TOO sweet and therefore kind of gross. I stick with regular soda simply because I think it tastes better.
I loaded trucks at a soda pop ware-house years ago. With all that spilled pop you would expect bugs and rats galore but never saw a single bug or rat. Draw your own conclusion.
I have not gained weight on diet sodas. I use it instead of eating even worse stuff, High fructose corn syrup, for example.
The reason animals are not attracted to diet soda is that there is no nutrition in it for them to use. Review the lovely Krebs cycle for how energy for cells is arrived at.
The rest of this are various thoughts from an exhausted but slightly peeved mind.
Hey! Living is hazardous to your health.
Comics don't even appear to like artificial sweeteners, but then, those heroes are in fairly decent shape.
As an aside, the BMI of some the most effective superheroes is nearly off the charts. I wouldn't call them fat. Muscles weigh more than fat. Tired of that stupid BMI any way. I'm not overweight. I'm under tall.
Are you certain the other things you eat are as good for you as you think?
Did you see the 'honey' that bees made from M&Ms? The people can't use it, but the bees had to. There was this drought, you see. Very colorful though.
Sure I joke that diet soda off sets that candy bar. It does in a way. I also think any free food has no calories but then, I know I'm wrong there.
Chemistry is an amazing science. But so are the rest of the sciences. Chemistry just has a more immediate use.
Is Stevia considered an artificial sweetener, though it comes from plants, much like our sugar comes from sugar cane and sugar beets?
I will pick my own poison, thank you. "Those that wish to be safe and free, will forgo freedom for safety, until there is neither freedom nor safety left." (More or less- from Ben Franklin)
No bugs or rats with diet soda! Awesome! Maybe I should pour all mine out around the house. At least I won't drink it if I do that.
Why doesn't anybody take credit for writing this article? Was it Gupta or Cohen? Scared?
I have no idea how this thread is sorted, how it works, how comments are prioritized, blah blah blah. Such a waste of time. Refreshing the page, etc etc.
Too dumb to figure out the forum? Probably a good indicator that your opinion isn't worth reading anyway.
so with all this said and done what is a diabetic supposed to drink if he enjoys a diet soda with his meal?
Good question....I would assume diabetics are the exception....my sis is an RN and Type1 and my dad is Type2 and that is their view. They have discussed this around table for years, since nobody ever thought aspartame was good for us.
I should have said they are the exception in terms of diet soda being the better choice...not that it's "good" in any way, but the insulin regulation is way more important. One real soda messes that up big time.
A lot of things you might enjoy are very bad for you. I enjoy smoking cigarettes for example, but I quit that because I know how bad they are for my health. Maybe you should consider changing your drinking habits or simply live with the consequences.
Hmmmm....How about drinking water?
Well, nature would suggest that you are "supposed" to drink water, and plenty of it. In fact, drink a full glass before sitting down to that dinner. Your body will thank you after a few months of this habit.
i'm not trying to be abusive, but the fact that water doesn't seem like a viable alternative to you probably explains how you became diabetic
The American Beverage Association says the report was "an opinion piece, not a scientific study."
Actually, the ABA statement is an opinion. A biased opinion as well.. And opinions don't need facts. I'll stick with the facts thank you very much.
I love how the advertisement on this page is for McDonald's Dollar Menu.
OMG!!! All those artificial sweeteners are chemicals! DUH Of course they are. Sugar is a chemical. Air is a chemical. Water is a chemical. Before you write an article about health maybe you should learn a little science. If you don't understand the basics, how are we supposed to believe your "facts".
Hey, a science guy who understands. We don't understand what he understands.
Ban Dihydrogen monoxide! It kills thousands every year!
(BTW, Floyd... how's the cat doing?)
They needed "research" to figure this out?
I have a diet Pepsi with my nightly snack of an apple and 8 ozs of carrots. Weigh the same that I weighed in high school 35 years ago. I'm 5'6", 138 lbs and run 10K a day. I guess they didn't include me in the study.
Come to think of it, I don't want to be grouped in with other people with anything.
Well aren't you special?
This study shows that if you are a gluttonous pig, you'll eat/drink a lot of everything, including diet drinks. We have a lot of cheap, easily available food and little reason to be active. If you don't have any self control, then you will get fat.
There is more to obesity than just eating too much. Unfortunately, eating too much IS the main reason.
Could we throw in physics (a body at rest will stay at rest until acted on by an external force) ? Also include psychology. Eating is a form of self medication for comfort food is cheap, abundant, and totally acceptable. What about the stuff in there? Which is better: self- medicate with food, alcohol, or drugs? Hey! go to a psychiatrist. They have a pill for that. (what ever it is) and some of those are NASTY.
Many problems will be both started by and cured by chemistry in the future. My Chem professor in the mid-70's predicted margarine would be worse than butter and that most 'mental illness' will turn out to be (at least in part) a biochemical/physical disease process.
$1,000 says you are not a real doctor.
For the first time someone has pointed out what is the biggest part of the equation. Gluttony !! Nice to read the truth.
Human are designed to die whether you drink or drink not diet sodas as at some point the body caves in. Articles like these appear almost daily under heading "Researchers in (fill in the blank) have discovered that eating/drinking (Fill in the blank) may/may not be beneficial after all."
My Diet Coke addiction led to lesions on my liver. Enough said.
These things are POISON!!!!
Thank God they included a video for those too fat and lazy to read the article.
Wouldn't people who drink diet soda be more likely to have a struggle with weight gain in the first place? I stopped drinking regular soda and switched to diet soda and I lost 10 lbs quite quickly. I know that is anecdotal evidence, but it's my humble experience.
Are there fat people in Ethiopia? Bangladesh? Why are there no starving people in these starvation countries? Are these countries free of all these diseases and things the fat people apologists are throwing out there?
Diet soda's affect of slowing your metabolism has been known for years. Quit pretending like you discovered something new CNN, this is 7 years old.
They're reporting on some researchers efforts to simply put the discussion back in the limelight. Read the article.
I have to say that the cnn report on the diet soda was disturbing. As a diabetic who would like to have the choice to have a beverage that is diet I wish you would be a little more responsible. We already have grocery stores deciding which flavors we drink whether we like them or not. Gee maybe you could be a little more careful I might be able to keep my diet soda since there are so many hyper sensitive persons out there with the need to control, chill on the sensationalism huh?
" There are five FDA-approved artificial sweeteners: acesulfame potassium (Sunett, Sweet One), aspartame (Equal, NutraSweet), neotame, saccharin (SugarTwin, Sweet'N Low), and sucralose (Splenda)."
" Natural sweeteners, like Stevia – which has no calories and is 250 times sweeter than regular sugar – is not a chemical, but is still a processed extract of a natural plant, and increases your health risks similar to artificial sweeteners "
So the lack of this report is to inform us what is the healthy or less harmful option that we as concerned consumer we should choose from...
Seems to me that this applies to any no-calorie sweetener...
This is the very definition of JUNK SCIENCE. Tottaly worthless and meaningless article.
No, John. Hard studies have been conducted that bare this out. This article isn't junk science, because no one is claiming it is science. It's merely an opinion piece referencing studies based on GOOD science. Don't be ignorant.
Oh silly people...If you'd google searched artificial sweeteners over the past um-teen years, you would read this same research has already been done. Same conclusions. And also hard evidence that these same sweeteners have a direct link to cancer.
-Google search it! I work for a scientific/medical journal and I read these results years ago.
Marie, this article is referencing an opinion piece written by these researchers, but that piece is based on the studies you mention (some of which were conducted by the very university in this article). Sounds like they are just trying to get people to pay attention to that research. More power too them...the corporate interests and lobbyists behind these artificial sweetener manufacturers keep trying and succeeding at burying these facts.
I have always noticed that people I know who drink diet tend to be overweight, and people I know who drink regular pop tend to be regular weight. Not saying its 100% all the time I see it but, at least 75% of the people I know are like that. I think it's a mind thing, overweight people think they are helping themselves by switching to diet pop and people who are still regular weight don't switch.
Here's a thought, don't drink soda. I stopped drinking soda years ago after a bout with kidney stones taught me that I needed to drink more water. Drinking soda is an addiction, it took a while for my cravings for it to go away but now I have no desire for soda whatsoever. My beverage of choice is water and I have never had a problem maintaining a healthy weight.
hear hear !
Natural things can have risks and drawbacks too but they are KNOWN risks since they have been around for thousands of years. How long has sucralose been around? What are the risks? Some extra weight gain or cancer?
Welcome to information from 15 years ago!
Purdue (same university in this story) put out a study on this same effect on lab rats a few years ago. When will the FDA wake the hell up and crack down on these fake sweeteners? They're poison.
99% of all statistics quoted on the Internet are made up..... 😉
Half their conclusion relies on the human-factor. "... which triggers hunger and cravings for sugar...” Self-control and moderation are, as always, a staple of staying in decent shape. This study could gain a lot more traction if they did not include assumptions about human behavior or phrases like "...and may have increased health risks." 'May have' is a phrase that should never appear in scientific conclusions.
"'Low-calorie sweeteners are some of the most studied and reviewed ingredients in the food supply today,' the [American Beverage Association] said in a statement."
...said the fox as it watched the henhouse.
99% of all statistics on the Internet are made up..... 😉
From personal experience, I would have to disagree with aspects of this article. I once drank lots of regular soda then in an attempt to reduce drinking EMPTY calories I switched to diet soda. I still drink quite a bit of diet soda and even though I was not trying to lose weight I ended up losing about 5 pounds in the next few months. I weight then stabilized and I have not experienced any weight gain as a result of drinking diet soda.
How will diet soda affect my long term health, well I am 40+ and have no idea but in the short term I again would have to reiterate that diet soda has NOT had a negative affect on my weight, body or health and in fact it has had a positive affect over drinking lots of regular soda. AND YES I KNOW, that primarily drinking water would be the healthiest option BUT the way I have looked at it, we will ALL die someday and FOR ME diet soda is the lesser of two evils when it comes to drinking soda (ie: regular versus diet).
Paging Mayor Bloomberg, Mr. Bloomberg, you now have something new to ban......
Everybody seems to be missing the point – ingredients in diet soda are that CHEMICALS which you are putting in your body. Even regular soda is NOT good for you to drink as your primary source of hydration. The article says more studies need to be done and recommends moderation in consumption. Moderation – seems to be the problem among many – maybe there would be less medical issues the more people could practice MODERATION.
A lot of fatties here defendig what's not to be defended. How about you take personal responsibility, face facts, live healthy so my tax dollars don't end up being wasted to support your bad choices. The epitome of mediocrity knowing full well what you're doing is wrong and lying to yourself. While you're at it do some exercise too.
I have consumed diet soda (one or two a day) for 40 years. I used to go to the gym every day, and I was nice and skinny. I am older now and have severe arthritis, so I can't really get enough exercise. Hence, I'm 20lbs overweight and can't lose it because of the lack of exercise. (I'm NOT lazy, it just hurts). I'm not so sure the diet soda or lack thereof had anything to do with anything.
Article brought to you by the American Sugar Council.
where is the link to this study? correlation=/= causation. we don't know the other lifestyle choices these people made....
I have been drinking diet sodas for decades, and am not overweight. My body type/shape is much like the maternal side of my family who are/were overweight/obese. I knew as a teenager that I could easily become overweight and decided to be pro-active. My advice: Look at your parents, if either one, or both of them are overweight, there is good chance that you may become overweight too. Be pro-active to avoid gaining weight that you do not need.
Just drink water, worst case tea or coffee. Water is what our body is supposed to drink, for Gods sake, don't drink soda.
I don't think so. The real problem is people eating sweets and cakes with a diet soda thinking that they're saving calories. I'm firmly convinced that their bodies are getting plenty of sugar . . . all of the time.
Digusting how some people defend their "right" to live unhealthy and waste the tax dollars of responsible people to sustain their disgusting lifestyle. Takes no rocket scientist to know all that is bad for you. But go ahead and deny, I guess that junk kills brain cells too. I can;t stand people that defend bad stuff just for the hell of it. What wastes of oxygen.
Another case of researchers catching up with what everyone else already knows. That stuff is junk.
I've been a type 1 diabetic for 34 years and I drink my share of diet soda. I also test my blood sugar levels 6-10 times a day and can say it has absolutely no effect on my blood sugar level. So I wouldn't say this is true for everyone.
Reblogged this on The Hour of Power Show and commented:
I've been stating this for years. Anything labeled "Artificial" is doing more harm than good to your body. If you're going to drink A (as in ONE) soda, drink a regular one. The extra calories are worth taking in to keep your body functioning normally.
This is the exact same article that gets rehashed every 6 months on CNN (or any other news site for that matter). The authors clearly don't understand the difference between correlation and causation.
Just because people who drink diet soda are unhealthy, doesn't mean the diet soda has in some way CAUSED this. I would assume that the majority of the diet soda drinkers have substantially different eating habits than those who drink the non-diet stuff. Anecdotally, most of the people I know who drink diet soda also have horrible dietary habits, and they believe drinking diet soda somehow allows them to overindulge on unhealthy foods.
Next up: Gluten Free! All you m0r0ns running to Gluten Free products don't even know what gluten in and most of these products never had gluten to begin with! Sheep!!!
"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."
This is all based on the assumption that sugar free soda drinkers don't get any real sugar. Soda is just one source of sugar, and I am sure that sugar free soda drinkers still get lots and lots of natural sugars in all the other foods they eat.
I drink diet soda and have lost 75 lbs and lowered my blood sugar.................