Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Diet Soda Study Results Are Absolutely Preposterous

Sharon Fowler vs. diet soda

This has got to rank among the top three most idiotic study results I have ever seen regarding the issue of obesity. According to this WebMD article, diet soft drinks don't help you lose weight, but rather gain weight instead.

Say what?! Okay, let me get this straight. People switch to a DIET soda because they need to lose weight while on their DIET. But it's not gonna help them lose weight? Huh? And they're not talking about the imposters Coke and Pepsi tried to fool people into believing were good for them. They're talking about actual DIET sodas such as Diet Coke, Diet Pepsi, Diet Rite, etc. Am I the only one who thinks this sounds awful preposterous?

The University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, Texas has allegedly been studying data since 1997 and reported their findings at the annual meeting of the American Diabetes Association in San Diego, California on Monday.

Sharon P. Fowler headed the study claims her analysis of the study showed that people who exclusively drank diet sodas were more likely to develop obesity than those who drank sugar-laced soft drinks.

"What didn't surprise us was that total soft drink use was linked to overweight and obesity," Fowler told WebMD. "What was surprising was when we looked at people only drinking diet soft drinks, their risk of obesity was even higher."

You have got to be kidding me! While I'm sure Ms. Fowler is a highly respected researcher in her field of study, her conclusion just doesn't make any common sense. How can something that does not contain any sugar whatsoever and has very few calories be WORSE FOR YOU than a sugar-loaded can of wasted carbs and calories? I have long argued that sugar is the reason why we have an obesity problem. Frankly, this research will only serve to perpetuate the problem as people stop drinking diet sodas because they will think these are worse for them than the regular sodas.

Fowler exclaimed that there is a 41 percent increased risk of being overweight or obese for each can or bottle of diet soda drank each day while a sugar-filled soda only increased the risk by a little more than 30 percent.

I guess my risk of being overweight increased by 492 percent today thanks to those 12 diet soft drinks I gladly consumed! All I can say is how incredibly thankful I was to have diet soda to drink as I was in the midst of losing my 180 pounds last year. They were a real godsend to this former Cokeaholic! Although I still drink a lot of diet sodas, I also drink a lot of water, too. My weight has not been affected by my heavy consumption of diet sodas. But according to Fowler, I should be walking around hovering near 1,000 pounds by now! Are we sure this isn't just some joke?! It can't be serious research, can it?

The research followed 1,550 Mexican-American and Caucasian Americans between the ages of 25 and 64 over the past eight years. Fowler states about one-third of the 622 of those in the study who were at a normal weight at the beginning of the study became overweight or obese.

How do we know it was the diet soda that caused the weight gain? What were the eating and exercise habits of these study participants and how did those habits change if at all from what they were doing prior to the study? I'm just not buying this theory that the diet sodas CAUSED the weight gain. This smells fishy!

Fowler even admits that this does not prove diet sodas necessarily cause obesity, but said the common factor among those studied was diet soda consumption.

"One possible part of the explanation is that people who see they are beginning to gain weight may be more likely to switch from regular to diet soda," Fowler suggests. "But despite their switching, their weight may continue to grow for other reasons. So diet soft-drink use is a marker for overweight and obesity."

Using this logic, why don't we use air as a marker since everyone in the study breathed in oxygen during the study? Or why not blame it on the blue sky since it existed for all of the study participants during their weight gain? Surely it had to be the blue sky that caused their weight to increase! '

Sound absurd?! That's my point exactly. Where is the sanity in this research that one could conclude that the diet sodas had anything to do with the weight gain? I think it is blatantly dishonest to even suggest there is a connection when the data is inconclusive. For Fowler to come to that conclusion is simply baffling.

While a nutrition expert in the story notes that people mistakenly think drinking diet sodas will allow them to overindulge in their eating, one statement made especially stuck out to me.

"If you don't do anything else but switch to a diet soft drink, you are not going to lose weight."

Why not? We could all stand to rid our bodies of the unnecessary sugar we drink in the form of high-fructose corn syrup in so many of the soft drinks today. If nothing else changes in your eating habits, then cutting out sugary sodas can and will have an effect on your weight for the better. Of course, if you are still stuffing your face with gobs and gobs of sugar and other carb-loaded foods, then you will not lose any weight whether you are drinking diet soda or not.

Diet soft drinks are merely a tool in an effective weight loss strategy if you need them. When I started livin' la vida low-carb last year, I needed to replace all those Cokes I was drinking everyday with diet soda instead. It was an immediate change that needed to be made for my new eating lifestyle. Making that change when I still weighed 410 pounds was the starting point for my eventual success that got me down to 230 by the end of the year.

Fowler contends that people who drink diet sodas crave more calories than those who drink regular soft drinks with sugar.

"If you offer your body something that tastes like a lot of calories, but it isn't there, your body is alerted to the possibility that there is something there and it will search for the calories promised but not delivered," Fowler says.

How stupid does Fowler think we are? This notion that artificial sweeteners make you crave sugar is not a new argument. But to assert that it makes your body want to devour more calories is crazy. I don't eat any more food when I drink 12 diet sodas in a day than I do when I drink 2 of them! Are we so unaware of our own body that we would blindly start stuffing our faces with food because of the diet soda we drank?! This study is getting more and more silly by the moment!

"People think they can just fool the body. But maybe the body isn't fooled," she says. "If you are not giving your body those calories you promised it, maybe your body will retaliate by wanting more calories. Some soft drink studies do suggest that diet drinks stimulate appetite."

Okay, I give up. How can you reason with someone who thinks your body throws a temper tandrum when you "food" it with diet sodas? What is Fowler's real motive for these controversial study results? What does she suggest diabetics and people on a low-carb lifestyle drink instead of diet soda? Is she merely trying to discourage people from enjoying a delicious glass of something they can enjoy on their eating plan?

Fowler admits she was "baffled" by the study results, but said people need to drink "healthier alternatives" such a milk, water or juice. Other than the water, milk and juice are too high in carbs to be "healthy" for your weight loss efforts.

“Can you think of one good thing that comes from a diet soft drink can for your body? You’re giving yourself the taste of nourishment without any at all, so it may be that you then seek it from other foods, such as high-calorie desserts,” she said. “Even though you fool your tongue, you don’t fool your brain. It is not satisfied. I’ve seen people plunk down a doughnut and a diet soda on a convenience store counter. What our analyses indicate for sure is that drinking diet soft drinks will not protect a person from the health effects of the rest of his or her lifestyle.”

Now we're getting to the heart of the matter. Fowler just doesn't like the concept of diet sodas. I guess she'd be disappointed to hear that I absolutely LOVE the new Diet Coke with Splenda because it tastes so much sweeter than regular Diet Coke and pretty close to regular Coke. While I also consume about 2 gallons of water per day, I wonder what excuse she will try to come up with about why I haven't ballooned back up to my former weight.


Send Fowler a message that she's way off base with her research on diet sodas. She's doing a lot more harm than good with her work.


Blogger duncan_m said...

Oh my god! do you really drink 12 cans of diet coke a day sometimes?

6/15/2005 2:26 AM  
Blogger Regina Wilshire said...


While the results of the study may not make "common sense" - the body doesn't function metabolically on "logic", it functions on a primal level for survival - there are physiological reasons why a number of studies support the conclusion that even diet sodas may be counter-productive in weight-loss efforts (regardless of dietary approach - low-carb, low-fat, etc.).

The first and foremost among those is that "sweet" in the mouth - where digestion starts - stimulates an insulin response to prepare the body to metabolize the sugars/calories the body perceives to be coming in.

This is a well-documented response with aspartame in both animal and human studies.

We know insulin stimulates appetite, so one may be more inclined to eat more calories due to the insulin in the blood to raise blood sugar back up since insulin lowers blood sugars...with a diet soda the body has no blood sugar rise to lower, but now has insulin to deal with and declining blood sugar levels.

Second is the body's internal perception of calorie intake - something Fowler noted. Over time, eating or drinking artificially sweetened products may be counter-productive to the body's ability to gauge and self-regulate calorie intake.

It perceives calories coming in where none are and sets perceived calorie requirements higher over time since it thinks it's getting more calories than it actually is, thus stimulating more appetite and the potential to eat more calories than are actually needed over time.

Lastly, there is the self regulation of the person in what they are eating with the diet soda - if you drink a diet soda, the thinking goes with some people, you can eat something else that isn't necessarily a good choice since you've saved calories with the diet soda. Add that to the above two physiological responses within the metabolism and you've set yourself up to potentially eat too many calories.

Given the body of evidence that supports that artificial sweeteners elicit an insulin response and the potential to overeat calories one should be careful in using diet sodas within their diet - even low-carb. That is one reason (I think) that most of the low-carb diet authors limit how much artificial sweetener is allowed in a day when following a low-carb limits the potential for insulin response and thus increases in appetite from that insulin.

6/15/2005 11:46 AM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

I have always had a large thirst level. In fact, when I go out to eat I have to warn the server that I'm a "heavy drinker." They soon find out that I'm not kidding when I quickly down about 6 glasses of diet soda before, during and after my meal.

I know that's unorthodoxed and I am not normal in that regard (among many regards), but that's the way my body is. Always has been and always will be, I guess.

And, in case you are wondering, I'm not diabetic (some have assumed that I am because of my strong thirst level).

So, 12 diet sodas in a day isn't unheard of for me. Just think, I used to drink that many SUGARY ones in a day at the very least. Yikes! I'll take the diet ones instead.

And I still get about 1-2 gallons of water along with that diet soda, too. Yes, I do go to the bathroom a lot. :-)

6/15/2005 6:12 PM  
Blogger Kyle said...

Why must you be so pretentious as to believe that your personal experience supersedes the lengthy research done? It is possible that your experience is an exception, but it is not possible that you are correct in the "I'm better than everyone" thinking.

11/25/2006 4:59 PM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

THANKS for sharing your comments, Kyle. But in case you hadn't noticed, this is my blog and I share MY opinions about the topics I write about. What I write about here is based on my own experience and I never make any pretenses about that.

But scientific research has the right to be questioned which is exactly what I have done here. Sure, my opposition is anectdotal and I don't deny is could be an "exception."

Nevertheless, I share MY point of view openly so that a discussion of the ideas can ensue. THANKS for joining in that debate and I appreciate your comments.

Come back and share anytime!

11/25/2006 8:54 PM  
Blogger Kellie said...

For every Diet Soda you drink, subtract that much water from what you've drank. Not so great especially when you should be drinking around 100oz of water. Maybe you aren't gaining the weight, but many many people are. Even more are having horrible side effects due to excessive diet soda intake (as a side effect from ingesting aspartame.) Everything is ok in moderation, Jimmy. Even Carbs and thus Sugar.

11/27/2007 1:16 AM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

THANKS Kellie! I appreciate your comments, but I don't drink diet sodas with NASTY-tame or caffeine in them. I enjoy quite a few Splenda-sweetened sodas so that I don't have to have excessive carbs or sugar.

My body cannot handle more than about 35-50g carbohydrates daily without gaining weight. Some can get away with more than that and be just fine, but not me. Diet sodas help me with this.

THANKS again for your feedback!

11/27/2007 9:53 AM  
Blogger Kyt said...

Not from personal experience, but from former manager's point of view. He used to be a fairly hefty man. He, just like you drank a 12 pack every day. He switched to diet sode, still drinking a 12 pack a day. To this day, he is fairly thin. I asked about him about the diet vs. the regular soda and he said he firmly believes that switching to diet soda has helped in his quest to lose the weight.

He is not the only person who was once severely overweight who has said this.

In addition to the research done, I guess the many people I've come across who drink diet soda are all exceptions (sounds like a rather large exception to me). In addition...I wear a size 7 in Junior girls...and I drink diet soda over regular about 95% of the time. At one point I was getting up to almost 10 in womens. I haven't actually changed my diet or activity level, yet I did change the beverages I drank, one being to diet soda. I've yet to gain weight or feel hungrier after drinking a diet soda. I guess I'm an exception to the hunger inducing ingredients as well as to the obesity ratio.

6/12/2008 5:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Um, her study isn't wrong, she isn't being ridiculous, she is just saying that there is a correlation. She never said that drinking diet soda CAUSES obesity. She said they found a statistical correlation, so it could be a marker of risk for obesity. I think you even quoted her as saying exactly that. That is a perfectly okay conclusion to have.

11/22/2010 3:20 AM  

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