The Journal of the American Geriatrics Society published a new study saying that people who drank diet soda gained almost three times as much abdominal fat as people who didn’t drink diet soda. The study analyzed data taken from a questionnaire of 749 people who were at least 65 years old. The survey asked the subjects how many cans of soda they drank per day, and how many were diet or regular.
Even after adjusting for such factors as diabetes, exercise and smoking, the researchers found that people who routinely drank diet soda gained 3.2 inches around their waist over the study period, while people who never drank diet soda gained 0.8 inches. Occasional drinkers of diet soda gained 1.8 inches.
While scientists do not yet have clear answers they do have some hypotheses. First off, diet sodas contain chemicals that make the soda far sweeter than a regular soda. In addition, real sugar triggers a sense of satisfaction of fullness. The body knows that a sweet taste accompanies something with a lot of calories according to Monster.com. Artificial sweeteners confuse the body on that point and can cause cravings for sweeter and sweeter foods.
A recent study of mice showed that artificial sweeteners changed their gut bacteria and made them vulnerable to glucose intolerance and insulin resistance, both of which are linked to weight gain. Other studies with mice indicate that artificial sweeteners are linked to a drop in leptin, which is a hormone that controls the appetite. The mice with a lot of leptin in their systems ate significantly less than did the mice with only a little leptin.