Diet Soda Drinkers Tend to Compensate By Eating More

People who drink diet beverages in attempts to cut calories may compensate by eating extra food, according to a new study.

Researchers from the University of Illinois surveyed more than 22,000 adults in the U.S., asking participants to recall everything they ate or drank over the course of two non-consecutive days.

General findings showed that people who drank diet soda tended to eat more discretionary foods - energy-dense, nutrient-poor foods that don't belong to the major food groups, like cookies, chocolate, french fries or ice cream.

"It may be that people who consume diet beverages feel justified in eating more, so they reach for a muffin or a bag of chips," said professor Ruopeng An, study author. "Or perhaps, in order to feel satisfied, they feel compelled to eat more of these high-calorie foods."

Calorie intake and beverage consumption

The study also found that while diet-beverage drinkers consumed fewer daily calories than people who preferred alcohol or sugary drinks, for example, they consumed a greater percentage of their daily caloric intake from junk food.

According to An, people might also turn to diet beverages because they feel guilty about indulging in not-so-healthy foods. And while diet beverages can be a good option for diabetics or people looking to lose weight, they could do more harm than good if a person is compensating by eating more.

"If people simply substitute diet beverages for sugar-sweetened beverages, it may not have the intended effect because they may just eat those calories rather than drink them," An said. "We'd recommend that people carefully document their caloric intake from both beverages and discretionary foods because both of these add calories - and possibly weight - to the body."

The study is published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Source: Source: Illinois News Bureau

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