FOR YOUR HEALTH: Diet drinks increase waist and appetite

Anyone who’s made a pit stop at McDonald’s has heard it before: “I’ll take two Big Macs, a large fry, a 10-piece chicken nugget, oh, and a diet Coke. I’m trying to watch my weight.”

This acceptance of the diet drink as the be-all-end-all solution to weight loss couldn’t be further from the truth.

In reality, the diet drink is a nutritional wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Diet soda’s claim to fame is its zero-calorie energy load.

However, researchers at the School of Medicine at the University of Texas Science Health Center San Antonio found this lack of calories may cause diet-drinkers to consume more calories in the long run.

When your taste buds recognize sweetness, they send a signal to your brain to prepare for the energy rush and calorie load traditionally accompanied with sweet things like sugar and other saccharides.

When drinks with artificial sweeteners activate these sensors, they don’t deliver the energy your body is craving.

Consequently, your body’s appetite increases, causing diet drinkers to be hungrier and consume more food and calories with their drinks.

The study also found a correlation between a love for diet drinks and a larger waistline. Researchers tracked the waistlines of elderly diet soda drinkers and non-diet drinkers for nine-and-a-half years, adjusting for age, disabilities and other variables during each measurement interval.

At the end of the study, the figures were huge.

Occasional users experienced a 70-percent greater increase than non-users, and frequent users who said they drank two or more cans of diet soda a day saw a 500-percent greater increase in waistline size.

Researchers concluded avoiding diet drinks is your best option.

“Data from this and other prospective studies suggest that the promotion of diet sodas and artificial sweeteners as healthy alternatives may be ill-advised,” Helen P. Hazuda, professor and chief of the division of Clinical Epidemiology in the School of Medicine said in a press release covering the study.

“They may be free of calories but not of consequences.”

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