Why diet sodas may not be better for you

Artificial sweeteners, like those in diet sodas, can throw off the body\'s ability to know how many calories it needs. Also people may think they can consume more food because they are drinking a diet soda. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON – It says diet on the label, so it must be better. Right?

Think again.

Research shows diet soda, when consumed over a long period of time, can be just as detrimental to your health as sugary drinks.

According to a review of scientific studies by Purdue University, diet sodas typically contain sweeteners that may cause overeating, leading to obesity and a host of health problems.

Susan E. Swithers, a professor of psychological sciences and a behavioral neuroscientist at Purdue who studies ingestive behavior and body weight, reviewed and evaluated the scientific studies. Her findings, funded by the National Institutes of Health, are published in Trends in Endocrinology & Metabolism.

“Although it seems like common sense that diet sodas would not be problematic, that doesn’t appear to be the case. Findings from a variety of studies show that routine consumption of diet sodas, even one per day, can be connected to higher likelihood of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, metabolic syndrome and high blood pressure, in addition to contributing to weight gain,” Swithers said.

Research finds the sweetness of diet sodas can confuse the body’s natural ability to manage calories.

Additionally, part of the problem with diet sodas may be a phenomenon called “cognitive distortion.” People think that they are saving calories by having a diet soda, so they order something fattening to go with the liquid calories.

Skeptics and the beverage industry claim diet sodas can help maintain a healthy weight.

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