Diet Soda Makes You Fat

There’s something about the taste of sweetness that calls to us as human beings.

Is it because sweet tasting foods and drinks are often ‘comfort foods?’ Or perhaps it’s because we learned as children to equate candy with being rewarded. Or maybe we see sweets as a form of celebration like at holiday meals. Whatever the reason, we’re seem drawn to the sweet stuff.

Although our ancestors 100 years ago also ate sugar, their annual average consumption was around 5 pounds each. Then, as refined sugar became more available, so our average intake of sugar in all forms grew exponentially larger. Now the average American eats an astounding 159 pounds of sugar and sweeteners a year. That’s more than 30 times as much!

Artificial Sweetness

With our natural affinity for sweetness, it was just a matter of time before folks in laboratories started looking for a non-calorie replacement. After all, there are consequences to eating excess amounts of sugars. Click here if you want a quick review of the effects of sugar on the body.

The idea of non-sugar sweeteners is great. Have your sweet foods without any consequences.

Of course you know the unintended side effects that have come along with artificial sweeteners. If you need a review, click here for the search page on the Reno Alternative Medicine web site that will bring up artificial sweetener related articles.

But there’s one additional side effect that most people are surprised to hear. Artificial sweeteners lead to weight gain.

This came to light in a 2007 study done by the University of Michigan and published in the journal, “Circulation.”

The study evaluated 9,514 participants. They measured health changes and compared them against intake of diet soda. They checked the markers for metabolic syndrome (also known as Syndrome X). These include abdominal obesity, high triglycerides, low HDL (good cholesterol) high LDL (bad cholesterol), elevated blood pressure, and insulin resistance.

In that study, drinking just one diet soda a day increased the incidence of metabolic syndrome by 34%! Not what you might expect for diet soda.

Several other studies found similar results. One, done in 2005 and presented at the American Diabetes Association, discovered a 41% increase in the likelihood of obesity in people drinking diet soda.

And, the famous Framingham Heart Study by Boston University found that among its 6,039 participants, drinking one or more soda a day raised the percentage of new cases of metabolic syndrome by 44%.

Specifically, Framingham participants had a 31% increase in obesity risk, 30% risk of increasing abdominal waist circumference, 25% increasing risk of developing elevated blood sugar or triglycerides, and a 32% risk of low HDL on blood-work.

Alternatives to Sugar & Artificial Sweeteners

If you periodically have sweet cravings, then it’s important to deal with them well to save your health.

The first thing to know is that cravings of any kind are your body’s way of letting you know it isn’t getting the right kind of nutrition. Regular cravings are a signal to adjust your ratios of fats, proteins and carbohydrates in your diet. For many people this means increasing protein intake.

But what about those times when you just want something sweet? Stick with natural sugar alternatives, particularly low calorie ones such as powdered stevia root.


Hyperhealth Pro Database, In-Tele-Health, Hansville, WA, 2008.

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