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Jul 06th
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Research: Diet soda sweeteners can make you gain weight

dietsoda063011_optBY PAM LOBLEY

Diet soda makes you fat? DIET soda? I give up.

Two new studies are the bearers of this bad news. One was conducted at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, and presented Sunday at a meeting of the American Diabetes Association in San Diego. It followed 474 diet soda drinkers for a period of 10 years. Their waists grew 70 percent more than non-drinkers.

As your waist grows, so do your health risks. More belly fat means higher risk of diabetes, heart disease, cancer and other problems.

I don’t want to whine, but summer is prime diet soda season. It’s hot, you feel thirsty and lethargic. A crisp, fizzy diet soda with some caffeine in it is the perfect pick-me-up in the middle of the afternoon. And the best part is, since it’s calorie free, I don’t have to feel guilty about indulging in it. Until now.

In the other study, researchers found that, over a three-month period, mice which ate food laced with aspartame (the sweetener often used in diet soda) had higher blood sugar levels than mice that ate regular food. The researchers posit that the artificial sweetener triggered the appetite, but then didn’t offer anything to satisfy the appetite, like a real sugar would. In addition, it is possible that sweeteners inhibit brain cells that make you feel full.

I feel full after I drink a diet soda! It’s all that carbonation.

When I’m driving up and down the Turnpike this summer, I need a large diet soda to keep me going. Traffic is heavy on the way home from the beach, kids are fussy in the back seat — I count on the thirst-quenching snap of a diet soda. When I’m at the pool, when I’m trying to revive before dinner, when I’m grabbing lunch at a beachside shack, I count on diet soda as the treat that satisfies without consequences.

Now I’ll have to think: “Gee, I had that diet soda. Did that make me more hungry? Is my stomach fatter? Should I skip the crackers?”

I’m not giving up diet sodas just because of these studies. I’ll still drink them. But it won’t be as fun anymore.

Pam Lobley writes the “Now That’s Funny” column. Sign up for her mailing list at


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