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Diet Soda Could Foster 'Self-Deception,' Says Study

Think you're doing yourself a favor with all those diet sodas? Euromonitor International isn't so sure...
 Diet Soda Could Foster 'Self-Deception,' Says Study
 
 

All the deliciousness of the sodas you love (or most of it, anyway) but with no calories to pack on the pounds – what’s not to like about diet soft drinks? At least, that’s the general train of thought – but a new report from Euromonitor International tells a different story. According to the London-based market research firm, a growing body of research is showing that a positive correlation between calorie-free diet soda and weight loss is inconclusive, and that any benefits are likely being negated by overcompensation and what the firm refers to as “rosy self-deception.”

Today Food Navigator reported on a Euromonitor International blog which states that: “ A growing body of research is now starting to emerge, suggesting that low-calorie, artificially-sweetened carbonates may not be conducive to combating obesity after all.”

Hypotheses reportedly abound in regards to why “better for you” diet soft drinks aren’t working, with a major theory being “the assumption that artificial sweeteners prime the body into accepting calories, and that the failure of these being delivered triggers intense cravings for food and sweet drinks, causing people to overeat.”

 

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In addition to this, Euromonitor also has another idea: that diet soft drinks aren’t a weight loss obstacle in and of themselves, so much as they are a symptom of people guiltily compensating for otherwise excessive consumption. “any apparent correlation between BFY reduced sugar soft drinks consumption and being overweight could well be explained by the very human behaviour of people trying to compensate for their excessive food intake by consuming such drinks,” the blog explains, articulating that the art of cheap gags may imitate life more often than anyone cares to think. “Jokes are often made about overweight individuals, who are observed ordering a high-calorie, ‘super-sized’ fast food meal accompanied by a diet drink. This scenario, where diet drinks serve as a damage limitation measure, rather than forming part of a conscious effort to lose weight, is likely to be a common one, possibly warranting further investigation, followed by strategies affecting behavioural change.”

Is that hypothesis valid? Not everyone agrees: Food Navigator spoke to Tam Fry of the National Obesity Forum, who expressed that adults should have the common sense to know that they shouldn’t eat if they’re on a weight loss program. “If people are going to eat burgers they’re lost in the first place,” said Fry. “The case for sweetened beverage centres on use by people who know what they’re doing to keep themselves in shape.”

But one can’t deny that there are an awful lot of people who do overeat, even when ostensibly on a weight loss program – whether through loss of willpower, denial, or ignorance of proper technique. It’s for them that an honest study on the real life benefits and costs of diet soft drinks is so vital. 



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