Scientific Evidence: Diet Drinks Lead to Obesity, Disease

Diet Pepsi

Are you a diet cola junkie? Sorry, we come bearing bad news.

Earlier this week, a paper published in Trends in Endocrinology and Metabolism pointed out something that the beverage industry would like you to ignore:

accumulating evidence suggests that frequent consumers of sugar substitutes may be at increased risk of excessive weight gain, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Red more…

The paper, written by Dr. Susan Swithers, Department of Psychological Sciences and Ingestive Behavior Research Center, Purdue University, reviews multiple studies from the past years, and shows that just like people who consume sugary drinks, the diet drinkers are at increased risk for disease.

How could this be? There’s no sugar, no calories, and thus no harm in aspartame, sucralose, and others, right?


Apparently, artificial sweeteners mess with human metabolism. When we ingest sugary sweets, out gut is expecting energy to arrive within minutes. When these calories arrive, the body knows how to effectively deal with them. But when we consume artificial sweeteners, the gut is confused. After a while it is trained not to respond, or to partially respond, even when we are ingesting caloric sweeteners. The result is weight gain.

Artificial sweeteners are a kind of cheating. Nature doesn’t like cheating, and our bodies are paying the price of decades of artificial crap in our diets. Perhaps it’s time to clean up?

  • Eric

    I love reading these articles. One thing I have noticed is that just about every article I have read there has been either a spelling or grammer error.

    • really?

      Who cares? Doesn’t make the points invalid. I read comments like these often in comment sections and think they are rude and undercutting. Knit picking does nothing to offer to the conversation. Why not put pettiness aside and focus tour attention on the article at hand? Do you have anything to offer?

    • RDN

      Spelling or grammAr errors can definitely be off-putting.

      Enlightening and worrisome report though. So few options for diabetic patients. Will need a massive amount of re-education in that population if these recent studies hold true.

    • Fooducate

      Hey Eric, we’re looking for a copyeditor volunteer. Want to help us Fooducate the world in perfect English?

  • teddi

    Is stevia an artificial sweetener?

    • Bozo

      Stevia is a natural sweetener from the stevia plant. It is good for you!
      Did I misspell anything?

      • Brianne

        I am not certain but was always lead to believe stevia was natural. Now healthy? Don’t know!

    • RDN

      Natural or artificial isn’t the issue here. What the research is saying is that when we eat something that tastes sweet but don’t follow it up with actual calories (carbohydrates) for the body to metabolize, it trains the pancreas to basically become less efficient and desensitized. Stevia would fall under this same umbrella, sadly.

  • Kat

    These studies are always big headliners for some reason– I’m not saying that there isn’t a statistically significant link discovered in the study, or that soda is good for you in general, but there are plenty of third factor variables. Are obese people more likely to chose diet soda than not— Is there another certain sub group prone to over eating in general that has a preference for diet (those with an anxious attachment style for instance?) Does diet soda just create a faux sort of health halo where you feel better about drinking ‘zero’ calorie soda and therefore make it up elsewhere? I guess the headline bothers me since there are also plenty of people who drink nothing but diet soda and are still athletic, fit, and trim. If you eat healthy and watch your intake in the first place, is diet soda really going to lead to weight gain?

  • Lois

    As a compulsive over-eater and sugar addict, I have known this
    (anecdotally) for many years. But with regard to this report, spelling and grammar errors, such as the ones Eric made in his post, are off-putting. A recognized scientific report is written by a doctoral-level scholar. When he or she is too careless to use spell check or another source to correct grammar and spelling, he or she should have mastered in the 8th grade, it can make one a little skeptical about the rest of the report.

  • EKK

    I just read this blog post about the article and found the journal’s restrictions very interesting. With no meta reviews allowed, the article is flawed.