Published On: Tue, Jul 16th, 2013

Purdue Prof: Diet drinks contribute to weight gain

By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.

ONE FEATHER STAFF

 

For years, diet sodas have been touted as a way to enjoy soft drinks without the guilt.  A Purdue professor is alleging that those claims are incorrect.

“Although it seems like common sense that diet sodas would not be problematic, that doesn’t appear to be the case,” said Susan E. Swithers, a professor of psychological sciences at Purdue University.  “Findings from a variety of studies show that routine consumption of diet sodas, even one per day, can be connected to higher likelihood of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, metabolic syndrome and high blood pressure, in addition to contributing to weight gain.”

soft drink canHer findings were published as an opinion piece on the Wednesday, July 10 issue of Trends in Endocrinology & Metabolism.

“The concern that these non-caloric sweeteners might not be healthy is a message that many people do not want to hear, especially as the prevalence of articifical sweeteners increases in other products,” said Swithers.

One group that doesn’t want to hear her findings is the American Beverage Association who wrote in a blog post on July 10, “First, low-calorie sweeteners are safe.  They are some of the most studied and reviewed ingredients in the food supply today, and their safety is supported by regulatory agencies throughout the world, such as the European Food Safety Authority and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, as well as some of the world’s leading toxicologists.”

“Second, low-calorie sweeteners can be beneficial in weight loss and weight management, a position supported by leading health groups, including the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the American Diabetes Association.”

For her article, Swithers looked at various studies including the San Antonio Heart Study, the Nurses’ Health Study, and the Health Professional Follow-up Study.

Information from Purdue states, “Some data (in the studies) indicated that those who consumed artificially sweetened  beverages had double the risk of metabolic syndrome compared to non-consumers.”

Sheena Kanott, Cherokee Choices program manager, commented, “Soft drink companies spend billions on marketing soda each year in this country…what you never hear is the dangers that adults and children are exposed to by the increase in consumption of soft drinks.”

“Regular sodas are loaded with tons of calories.  Diet sodas are calorie-free yet are loaded with tons of sodium.  Neither provide any nutritional value such as essential vitamins and minerals your body needs to function properly.”

Kanott added, “There is strong evidence that shows a huge correlation between soda consumption and obesity.  This is why it is so important that we educate others on these concepts so that our children, families, and community try to make the best choices to stay healthy.”

 

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