In the Purdue study, the rats whose diets contained artificial sweeteners appeared to experience a physiological connection between sweet tastes and calories, which drove them to overeat.
I would bet that the gains associated came almost entirely, if not 100%, from this. It has been said here at 3FC for years that, for some people, diet sodas trigger cravings, overeating, etc. For others, they don't. But yes, if drinking diet sodas affects your brain chemistry such that you eat more than you burn, you'll gain weight.
I still see no evidence in this study that artificial sweeteners are, independent of changing eating habits, causing weight gain or affecting metabolism, only that, in rats, drinking diet sodas made them eat more, resulting in a weight gain.
It is so fascinating to me how study results (we gave rats diet soda, they ate more than rats that did not have diet soda, they gained weight) get sensationalized in the media (Diet Soda Makes You Fat!!). No, eating more made rats fat.
Sometimes when I drink a diet soda I think "Mmm, chips would go good with this." It doesn't make me get those chips, and I usually don't. For me, carbs do tend to make me want more carbs. It's possible that "fake carbs" do the same. On the other hand, it might be because I've learned to associate drinking soda with eating pizza or chips, it's the first thing I think of.
Animal studies are interesting, but they have to be considered carefully. A rat cannot keep a food diary and decide not to eat something despite a craving for it. The lab rat can't act on a craving, even if they have one as they're not choosing their own food, it's being presented to them. We can decide consciously to have a diet soda INSTEAD of a piece of cake.
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Colleen - exactly! I have lately started to really question the validity of using rat-feeding or obese-rat studies to start making conclusions about human behavior, since rats are free-feeding and humans, at least those who are trying to manage weight, are definitely not just eating whatever is presented to them without thinking about it.
A rat wants food and it eats. A human wants food, makes a decision about whether to eat that food, thinks about alternative foods, thinks if something else sounds better, and then eats. They are very different ways of making decisions, which is important to consider in a study like this about behaviors.
And to make it worse, it's not even a study of natural rat behavior, because lab rats aren't allowed to live a natural rat life. They're generally not allowed to live in a colony, but rather are housed in individual cages often too small to exercise in. We don't know if their eating behavior would be different if they had the opportunity to select food from a wide variety, not to mention whether exercise or socialization would play a role.
When I drink diet soda, it fills me up, just like drinking tea, water or any other liquid. Granted, if I'm really hungry, I still want to eat, but I do not have cravings because I drank the soda.
I recently read this in "You, Staying Young" by Dr. Oz:
"Studies show that people who drink fizzy or syrup based drinks twice a day or more run a 90 percent higher risk of getting cancer of the pancreas than those who never drink them". Now that got my attention! I drink a lot of diet soda!
My dr told me 18 yrs ago to stay away from diet drinks. He said in some people it causes weight gain...if only I had listened back then. He truly believed it was better for someone to drink a reg soda than a diet one. For me drinking diet drinks filled me up and I didnt eat ...so my metablism died. I dont drink diet drinks at all now. Hoping with exercise and eating healthy I can wake it back up.
I don't have much of an opinion regarding this study other than I've avoided artificial sweetners my entire adult life because I wonder what the long term impact of these products will have on our health. I don't trust them. I drink water, tea and coffee (oh, and wine, too!). About twice a year I'll drink a diet soda and it always gives me a stomach ache and makes me feel generally crappy. So that's enough to keep me away. So my advice is to totally cut out soda and then try a diet soda 6 months down the road and you'll probably feel like crap after you drink it. That will keep you away for good!
The funny thing is ... if you go to the source and read the study itself (not the news reports), it didn't even study diet soda. The rats were fed rat chow and two kinds of yogurt -- one sweetened with glucose and one sweetened with saccharine. But somehow it's gotten blown up into a condemnation of diet soda.
As far as I know, you can't buy yogurt, or diet sodas for that matter, that are sweetened with saccharine. So I'm not sure what conclusions can be drawn from this study except that rats whose rat chow diet is supplemented with saccharine-sweetened yogurt seem to eat more rat chow than rats whose diet is supplemented with glucose-sweetened yogurt.
In the meantime, I'll keep drinking my 1 - 2 cans of diet soda per day and enjoying Splenda in my oatmeal. So long as my rat chow consumption isn't increasing, I think I'm OK.
A coworker had me half-convinced that aspartame and/or caffeine had "caused" my fibromyalgia. I gave up caffeine and artificial sweeteners for a year. I had no miraculous recovery, and if anything my fatigue got worse. During that year my husband and I moved to Wisconsin and I was unable to work and had to apply for disability.
On a fibromyalgia website, I read that a lot of people were having luck with Provigil (an alertness drug often prescribed for narcolepsy), and asked my doctor about it. He asked about my caffeine consumption and I told him I hadn't had caffeine or artificial sweeteners in about a year. He suggested adding back in caffeine. Since I'm not a real fan of coffee, I asked about diet cola - and the artificial sweeteners. He told me that a lot of people do have a reaction to some of them (but no, there was no link with fibromyalgia) and if I was sensitive to them, I would very much notice the reaction having been off them for a year. I've added back the diet sodas and have had no adverse affects. I did end up having to have the Provigil also, but only have to use it every couple of months - on a day that I might not be able to rest as needed, such as a family gathering out of town.
I don't consider diet sodas a health food, but I like them, don't notice any ill-effects, and it's a convenient way to transport the caffeine that helps me function. I would also encourage anyone that is concerned about diet sodas or any food or food product whether it be completely natural or not to give it up for several months and add it back in and see what happens. I've been thinking of doing this with wheat or gluten, as I have IBS that seems to get worse when I'm eating a low fat, high carb diet, and gets better when I eat low carb.
My Etsy shop (currently closed for the summer)
I drink diet soda because I like something cold to drink with a little flavoring added to it and yes the fizz is kind of nice too. I'll drink water too but not as much as I drink diet soda. I drink skim milk and unsweetened orange juice as well. My main liquid though is diet soda. I am sure that in the earlier years it may have had some of the artificial sweetners that are now currently banned. In the past couple of years, I have switched to diet soda that is sweetened with Splenda.
I drink as much each day as my bladder and stomach will allow me too. I don't overeat as a result of drinking diet soda. I have drank it when I was a normal weight and when I was obese and every weight in between. What caused me to gain weight was the double and triple bacon cheeseburgers along with a mound of french fries three times a week back in the 1980s!! I drank the diet soda along with that meal for "damage control". lol
I just wish there were a consensus regarding any other ill effects of diet sodas. There was some health scares regarding drinking coffee too, including decaf, a few years ago but that died down. It just seems like with artificial sweetners and diet soda, all of this seems to persist.
Last edited by pamatga : 02-13-2008 at 05:38 PM.
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