From soft drinks to white bread, almost everything on the menu seems to contain sugar.
Although “diet” drinks have been promoted as a healthy alternative to regular beverages, some new studies show that this is not the case.
When it comes to weight gain and obesity, there are numerous campaigns that are trying to raise awareness of the negative effects of sugar.
Approximately 75 percent of processed foods and drinks contain added sugar. Moreover, the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) has increased five fold since the 1950s.
Numerous studies show that there is a link between SSBs and cardiovascular diseases, metabolic syndrome, and diabetes.
The soft drinks companies promote the so called “diet” drink to replace the regular soft drinks which contain sugar. According to soft drinks companies, these artificially sweetened beverages (ASBs) or diet drinks are healthy and prevent weight gain. However, researchers from the Imperial College London in the United Kingdom disagree.
Full-Sugar Vs. ‘Diet’ Drinks
According to one new article published in the journal PLOS Medicine, ASBs are just as ineffective in preventing weight gain as their full-sugar counterparts.
The article contains a research which is a collaborative effort between the Imperial College London, the University of Sao Paulo and the Federal University of Pelotas in Brazil and Washington University in St. Louis, MO.
According to the research, in the U.K., SSBs make up a third of the total sugar intake among teenagers. In Brazil, they are the second largest source of dietary sugar, and in the United States, SSBs account for almost half of the added sugar in Americans’ diet.
The researchers – led by Prof. Christopher Millett – argue that not only SSBs are very high in calories, but they also contain almost no essential nutrients. Moreover, “convincing epidemiological evidence” has suggested that consuming SSBs increases the risk of becoming overweight or obese, as well as developing diabetes.
As an alternative to harmful sugary drinks, a lot of people start using ASBs, which become more and more popular. By 2008, the number of American children consuming ASBs had doubled, compared with 1999.
Soft drinks, fruit juices, flavored water, and ready-to-drink coffee and tea are all artificially sweetened. ASBs are perceived as healthy only just because they taste similarly to their full-sugar counterparts but have none of their energy content.
Diet Drinks a ‘Potential Risk Factor For Chronic Diseases’
Some researchers explain why the common perception of diet drinks is wrong.
As well as SSBs, ASBs can still cause a compensatory mechanism by stimulating sweet taste receptors. This increases appetite and stimulates the secretion of gut hormones. Knowing that ASBs are low in calories might lead to excessive consumption of other foods.
This could lead to weight gain, obesity, and obesity-related complications.
In fact, according to Millett and his team, there is a strong link between ASBs and increased body mass index (BMI). Consuming these drinks poses a higher risk of cardio metabolic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and stroke.