If You Drink Diet Soda You Probably Binge on Junk Food, Study Finds


As if choking down the chemical aftertaste of diet soda wasn’t bad enough on its own, new research says it isn’t doing your so-called diet any favors. In fact, it may make you more likely to binge on junk food. Some diet, eh?

The study, published in the recent issue of the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, looked at the eating and drinking habits of more than 22,000 people over the course of a nine-year survey.

According to the researchers, the people who regularly consumed diet sodas took in a larger overall amount of calories from “energy dense, nutrient-poor foods" like sweets, chips, pastries, and other junk foods than did the people who did not drink diet sodas.

Read more about junk food addiction

The study's lead author, Ruopeng An, explained why this may be the case: "It may be that people who consume diet beverages feel justified in eating more, so they reach for a muffin or a bag of chips," he said. "Or perhaps, in order to feel satisfied, they feel compelled to eat more of these high-calorie foods." There is also the guilt factor, An said: choosing a diet soda when eating an otherwise unhealthy meal. 

"If people simply substitute diet beverages for sugar-sweetened beverages, it may not have the intended effect because they may just eat those calories rather than drink them,"  said An. "We'd recommend that people carefully document their caloric intake from both beverages and discretionary foods because both of these add calories — and possibly weight — to the body."

This is not the first study of its kind to highlight the health risks connected with drinking diet soda. It’s been pointed to as a cause of weight gain, ironically, from the artificial sweeteners found in diet sodas, which can cause excess weight around the midsection as well as cravings for sugary foods.

Read more about the dangers of diet soda

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By Jill Ettinger| September 17, 2015
Categories:  Eat

About the Author

Jill Ettinger

Jill Ettinger

Jill Ettinger is a freelance journalist and marketing specialist primarily focused on the organic and natural industries, she bridges her love for changing the food system with her lifelong passion for writing and connecting people in their shared values. You can connect with Jill on Twitter and Instagram.

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