Study Linking Diet Soda To Obesity Stirs Controversy
A new study links consumption of soft drinks--both the sugared and diet variety--with a higher risk for a range of obesity-related health problems. The finding that diet-soda drinkers face health risks is unexpected because the zero-calorie drinks are often touted as a way to help people prevent weight gain and related health problems.
The results may simply signal that the diet-soda drinkers in the study were less healthy to start with and had turned to sugar-free beverages. But the study investigators, who oversee the respected Framingham Heart Study in Massachusetts, also cite research suggesting that artificially sweetened beverages may affect a person's satiety or cravings for sweets.
The soft-drink industry and some nutrition researchers immediately criticized the research. "There is no plausible physiological mechanism to explain this," says Dean Ornish, clinical professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, and chairman of the PepsiCo Health & Wellness Advisory Board.