Drinking diet beverages help people lose weight more so than water, according to a new study funded by the American Beverage Association.
Researchers at the University of Colorado say they have dispelled the myth that diet drinks make people more hungry. In fact, they say it plays an important role in weight loss by helping individuals feel less hungry.
“What we found, surprisingly, was that diet beverages actually performed better than water,” said Dr. Jon Peters of the Anschutz Health and Wellness Center.
About 300 participants in the study followed a diet and exercise program that either had them drink water or diet beverages. They found those who drank water lost an average of 9 pounds in 12 weeks, while diet calorie-free beverage drinkers lost 13 pounds.
“I’d say diet sodas can be an effective tool in a weight loss program,” Peters concluded.
The diet drink group also showed a decrease in bad cholesterol.
“Perhaps it helps people not have to give up that little bit of pleasure in their life when they’re otherwise trying to restrict their calories,” Peters added.
While the study was funded by the American Beverage Association, Peters says none of the group’s members were involved in the research.
The study is criticized by some, who believe that 12 weeks is not an adequate amount of time to determine the effects of drinking diet sodas.
Susan Swithers, a professor at Purdue University whose research shows that diet soda is just as unhealthy as regular soda, points out, "What the prospective studies actually suggest is that if you go out 7 years, 10 years, 15 years, 20 years, the cohorts of individuals who are consuming diet sodas have much worse healthy outcomes."