Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Noooo! Not Diet Sodas!

I have a weakness for sodas. I wouldn't go so far to call myself an 'addict,' but perhaps that is my own denial kicking in. I used to drink Cokes like there was no tomorrow. Over time, I switched over to Pepsis, and eventually Diet Pepsis. I think I rationalized my habit by thinking that the 'diet' part made it okay. It's just flavored water! Right?

Sadly, articles like Can Sugar Substitutes Make You Fat? seem to imply that diet soda isn't as benign as I once thought it to be. The article argues that when one drinks diet soda, the body is expecting to see calories, but does not get them, requiring the person to eat even more later on to make up the perceived deficit. It's an interesting argument, and one I'm willing to buy. However, it raises two issues: first, does this mean that drinking Cokes/Pepsis is relatively better than their diet versions, since the body will receive the calories it expects and not overcompensate? Somehow, I doubt this and just assume the article means that diet sodas are not as innocuous as advertised but still better than the alternatives. Second, the article merely notes a correlation but does not really explain why the mice described would overeat to compensate. If anything, you'd expect the mice to consume more calories, but then stop once they reached the amount their bodies thought was required. Also, the mice's bodies had adapted to the decreased caloric intake, so perhaps the real issue here is not the overeating later to compensate, but rather the repression of their metabolism.

Couple this study with other concerns over sweetners (aspartame -> cancer?) and my diet soda just got a lot less appealing.

Still unconvinced? Read about the possible link between diet sodas and chronic kidney disease.

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