When my diabetic father visited me in June, I stocked the refrigerator with cases of diet sodas per his request. Ever since he was diagnosed with Type II diabetes, he has had at least one to two diet drinks a day and is 90 years old. Since the cans were at arms reach, I found myself drinking one a day, something I usually do not do because of the controversy involved in diet drinks possibly making us fat!
At a recent meeting of the American Diabetes Association in San Diego, researchers from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio Texas presented data on elderly patients who drank two or more diet sodas a day. Compared to non- soda drinkers, their waist lines increased five times more!
Now, before you pour out that diet drink in your hand, consider this, “Do people who drink diet sodas eat more because they think they are saving calories by drinking diet drinks?” Certainly there is a psychological connection here. But as I noted in Lose It For Life, there may also be a physiological connection as well.
The work of epidemiologist Sharon Fowler has found that in rats, artificial sweeteners may affect hunger-regulating cells in the brain and raise blood sugar. While no causation has been established, she thinks a connection may exist and worries that there are consequences to using these artificial sweeteners that we have yet to understand.
Another study presented by Dr. Steven Greenberg compared diet sodas drinkers to non-diet soda drinkers in the New York area and found an increase in heart attack and stroke.
Finally, nutrition researcher, David Katz, MD at Yale believes diet sodas and other sweet tasting drinks and food condition our tastes to want more sweet stuff – a concern for weight gain as well.
But not all experts agree. Barry Popkin, Ph.D. at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill says the data just isn’t there to support the notion that diet drinks lead to weight gain. Other factors that relate to obesity and weight gain may be in play. Popkin’s own research found weight loss with diet drinks and restricted diet.
So what is the bottom line for those of wondering if we should pick up that sale carton of diet soda or reach for the case of water instead?
Remember, drinking diet soda doesn’t counter overeating and lack of exercise
And a little more water couldn’t hurt any of us!
When we aren’t certain, I like to err on the conservative side.