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article imageStudy urges heavy diet drink users to watch food intake

By Joe Duarte     Jan 19, 2014 in Health
Baltimore - The image of an obese person ordering a mega-meal at a restaurant and washing it down with a diet soda may not be too far removed from the notion that people may rely too heavily on diet drinks for weight control, a recent study indicates.
Researchers from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore analyzed the calorie intake of 24,000 people surveyed in the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (covering a span between 1999 and 2010), looking for patterns in beverage consumption. Their findings were published in the American Journal of Public Health in January 2014.
The study found that a lower percentage of healthy-weight adults (aged 20 and older) consumed diet beverages (11 percent) than did overweight adults (19 percent) and obese adults (22 percent). A report in the Los Angeles Times says a significantly higher percentage of Americans are drinking diet beverages over the past half century — it is estimated that 3 percent of Americans consumed diet beverages in 1965, compared to 20 percent today.
In the Johns Hopkins’ study, researchers found that adults who drank sugar sweetened beverages (SSBs) took in more calories on a daily basis than did people who drank diet beverages (2,351 kcal, compared to 2,203, respectively), with a significant difference noted in adults deemed to have a healthy weight — 2,302 kcal for drinkers of SSBs versus 2,095 kcal for diet beverage drinkers.
Further, researchers noted that among diet beverage drinkers, “total caloric consumptions increased significantly by body weight, with overweight and obese adults consuming more than healthy-weight adults and obese adults consuming more than overweight adults,” and that there was a significant change in calories from solid food through the three weight-class definitions.
They found that among obese adults, drinkers of diet beverages took in 194 more solid-food calories per day than drinkers of SSBs. The same held true for overweight adults — eating 88 more calories on average. Only healthy-weight adults who drank diet drinks reduced their daily calorie food consumption (by 73 kcal).
The study stopped short of concluding that diet beverage consumption leads to daily higher calorie intake, but rather made the presumption that drinking diet beverages perhaps leads people to believe they don’t have to watch their solid food intake as closely. Researchers also acknowledged the 24-hour recollection method of data collection may not accurately reflect actual consumption.
In a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) report, Kelly Brownell, a Duke University professor of psychology and neuroscience who was not involved in the study, said “people need to separate the biology from the psychology” of weight maintenance.
The American Beverage Association (ABA), a trade association, replied in a statement that “numerous studies have repeatedly demonstrated the benefits of diet beverages –as well as low-calorie sweeteners – in helping to reduce calorie intake.”
However, the statement noted that “losing or maintaining weight comes down to balancing the total calories consumed with those burned through physical activity.”
More about Johns hopkins, american beverage association, Obese, Overweight, diet drinks
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