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Diet sodas: Do they, or don’t they, help you lose weight?

Consumer Reports News: June 30, 2011 02:28 PM

Last week, a major study suggested that diet soda was not associated with weight gain. This week, a paper presented at the American Diabetes Association 2011 meetings reached the opposite conclusion. What’s a diet-soda lover to do?

In the new study, researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio recorded the diet-soda intake of 474 adults aged 65 to 74, as well their waist-circumference, a measurement linked to excess weight. After nine years, the soda-drinking seniors added an average of almost an inch to their belts, compared with roughly a third of an inch for those who avoided diet soda. Some previous research has also suggested that diet soda doesn't help people lose weight, perhaps because people might use diet-sodas to justify consuming other high-calorie foods or the sugar-free drinks might somehow stimulate appetite.

However, the study we reported on last week—of 120,000 doctors and nurses, published in the New England Journal of Medicine no less—concluded that diet soda had no effect on weight.

Bottom line: While the question of whether and how diet soda effects weight is still unresolved, one thing is clear: it’s no magic potion, and drinking the stuff doesn’t guarantee weight loss. If you don’t cut calories by eating less or burn calories by exercising more, you won’t lose weight.

If you’re trying to lose weight, take a look at our recently updated diet Ratings, as well as our tips on how to control your weight.

Diet Soft Drink Consumption Is Associated with Increased Waist Circumference in the San Antonio Longitudinal Study of Aging [American Diabetes Association (ADA) 2011 Scientific Sessions]

Drinking sugar-sweetened beverages daily linked to diabetes, cardiovascular disease, increased healthcare costs [American Heart Association]

Ginger Skinner

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